DATA POVERTY IS THE NEXT FRONTIER IN ADDRESSING WIDENING INEQUALITY
The Web Foundation, set up by the inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee, announced the results of the 3rd Open Data Barometer, a global snapshot of the state of open government data in 92 countries. Open data is data that is openly published online and is free for all to access and reuse. For the first time, over half of the countries in the study have open data initiatives in place.
In stark contrast to the unauthorised revelations of Wiki-Leaks and more recently “the Panama Papers”, Open Data is the publishing of data – usually by governments - in reusable, machine-readable formats and, is seen as essential not only to pierce the veil of secrecy but to help corruption fighters unravel the complex webs through which illicit money circulates.
Commenting on the findings, Sir. Berners-Lee, said: “Inequality and poverty are about more than income – they are also about information. Seven years after I first demanded that governments open up their data to all, open data initiatives are now in place in more than half of countries we track. Yet their quality is variable, and benefits are concentrated in rich countries. Now is the time to resource and implement open data throughout the world, through projects such as the international Open Data Charter.”
Anne Jellema, Web Foundation CEO, summed up the critical nature of Open Data by saying: “Trying to use traditional data sources to tackle complex development challenges like climate change and hunger is like tunneling through rock in the dark with a teaspoon. It takes ages and you may come out in the wrong place. Making development data open is vital for fast and accurate collaboration on the Sustainable Development Goals, and the urgency now is to move from promises to implementation.”
A link to the full report is available in the show-notes.
HACKERS HITTING CAYMAN COMPANIES
Several businesses in the Caymans have been hit by “ransomware” scams in the last few months. “Ransomware” occurs when unauthorized and inadvertently installed software is installed on a PC, the software then encrypts important files and crooks extorting a ransom, to be paid in untraceable Bitcoin digital currency.
Industry experts say cybercrime of this type is an increasing concern in boardrooms across the Cayman Islands. Meanwhile, police believe such attacks are being significantly under-reported amid business fears of reputational damage.
Detective Sergeant John Williams, of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Financial Crime Unit, said there had been three reports since January of ransomware-type scams in the Cayman Islands.
But police are aware of several other incidents which went unreported.
“A lot of companies are concerned about their reputation and they don’t want clients walking out thinking they can’t keep their data secure,” said Detective Williams.
Williams said police treat cybercrime reports confidentially but need to be informed of all such incidents to help them get a clearer picture of what is happening and liaise with international investigators.
Anhill Carsana, a computer forensic examiner, with the police service, said “We encourage business to report to us, to see if there is any assistance we can give,” adding that “We have had a few incidents, but nobody is really reporting. We are aware that it is happening much more regularly.”
Micho Schumann, an IT expert with KPMG in the Cayman Islands, said the threat posed to the territory’s businesses by digital extortion or similar scams was growing.
“This is one of the top boardroom discussions right now. Companies are asking us about it because their investors, their clients are asking about it. In the last 12 months, the requests we are getting have skyrocketed,” said Mr. Schumann, who helps train companies to manage their staff and systems to avoid becoming victims.
BAHAMAS GOVERNMENT INVITES PUBLIC CONSULTATION FOR FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL
Bahamian Education, Science and Technology Minister the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald announced the process for passing Freedom of Information Legislation has begun, and public consultation would be sought via a series of Town Hall Meetings.
Minister Fitzgerald said the Bill is of “utmost importance”, has “far-reaching implications” and will strengthen the country’s democracy.
He went on to say that “The Bill requires that due diligence is given to ensure that the new and progressive legislation is properly instituted from the onset,” he said. “Our aim is to have a very systematic implementation plan and in order for that to happen, we must have certain things in place.”
According to Minister Fitzgerald, the objective of the Bill is to give effect to “governmental accountability, transparency and public participation in national decision-making by granting to the public a general right of access to public records held by public authorities, subject to exemptions which balance that right against the public interest in exempting from government disclosure in certain circumstances.”
A committee comprising representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the College of the Bahamas (Legal Department), the Archives and the Data Protection Commissioner has been selected and has been meeting since June of 2015 to examine the provisions of the existing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to determine whether changes would be recommended in accordance with other jurisdictions and international best practices.