SL nears enacting Cybersecurity Bill as country gets more digitally connected

As more people, institutions and the government increasingly embrace and adopt digital connectivity in their day-to-day functions as never before, the authorities are bringing new laws to protect users from potential cybersecurity risks and crimes, a key area Sri Lanka currently lags far behind. 

As more people, including scores of young, school-going age children, spend more time for their education and various other needs on internet-powered digital platforms, necessitated by the pandemic, they could become vulnerable to cyber bullying and deceit by unscrupulous parties. 

Meanwhile, key systems and confidential information of employees, institutions and governments could fall into the hands of unintended parties, exposing them more than ever before, as more work now happens remotely since the onset of the pandemic. Further, e-commerce has picked up significantly, making Sri Lanka further vulnerable to cyber theft and attacks of ransomware by terrorists, adversaries and other hackers.

Hence, the provision of enhanced protection against such eventualities and the provision of legal recourse to a wide range of users, who could become potential victims of cyber crimes, remain a long overdue necessity for Sri Lanka, which made fast advances in its digital adoption in the recent past. 

“We are at a very, very bad situation in terms of our cybersecurity readiness. We only have a Computer Emergency Readiness Team – SLCERT. That’s typically the first step a country would take on cybersecurity readiness,” said Oshada Senanayake, Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), the state agency for all ICT-related initiatives and projects. 

Speaking at the Day 1 of CMA Sri Lanka National Management Accounting Conference for 2021, Senanayake therefore underscored the need to establish a robust digital health and safety platform for all those who have a stake in the expansive digital eco-system. 

“The good news is we have just formalised the Cybersecurity Bill. It is coming in parallel to the Cyber Defence Command Bill as well,” he added. 

Mirror Business this week reported that nearly the entire population in Sri Lanka has now access to internet, either mobile or broadband, as the pandemic added a flywheel into the country’s internet penetration and digital adoption.
Senanayake, who is also Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, is confident that the bill would have a fast passage through Parliament within the next couple of weeks, before going to Legal Draftsman. 

The enactment of the bill will also establish in what is called a Cybersecurity Agency, manned by a highly competent team of experts, who will work around the clock in monitoring, reporting, staying ahead of potential cyber-related threats, developing standards and benchmarks and providing policy support in respect to maintaining a high level of cybersecurity at all times. 

“What this will entail is that we can create a Cybersecurity Agency for Sri Lanka,” Senanayake added.



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