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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Palace urged to sign DICT bill

THE Malacañang should expedite the signing into law of a recently approved bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in order to firewall the country from possible cyber attacks, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said on Friday.

"Countries we are not so friendly with may target us and criminals will always want to hack their way to our financial system," Recto said in a statement.

Recto stressed the need to put up counter-measures against cyber-criminals the soonest time possible, following the “hack-attack” on Bangladesh Banks.

The senator was referring to reports that hackers stole $80 million from the Bangladesh bank, using stolen credentials to make online transfers.

Reports said the hackers allegedly requested the Federal Reserve Bank in New York to transfer the money to organizations in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Recto said the proposed DICT would be a “powerful main server,” which would spur information and communications (ICT) development, institutional e-government, and manage the country’s ICT environment.

He said the DICT would be created by merging existing ICT-related agencies under the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Transportation and Communications.

Under the bill, the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center will be attached to the department.

“We live in an era when terrorists don’t have to blast bank doors to do mayhem; but simply unleash a virus that could shred or such out financial data. An enemy with a missile is as dangerous as one with malware,” the senator said.

“The DICT will formulate the National Cybersecurity Plan and form National Computer Emergency Response Team, our IT Special Action Forces,” he added.

The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the DICT bill last year, with minor difference. To avoid convening bicameral conference committee, the Senate adopted the House version.

Recto said broadband has become the “third utility,” after power and water, and thus needs to create an agency that will address ICT infrastructure, ICT affordability, and ICT usage from which the country scores low.

“We are now living in the electronic republic, where views of the sovereign are advocated online, and services must be rendered to them on the same platform. Permits, licenses, land titles should now be electronically-applied for, processes, and issued,” he said.

The DICT, Recto said, is also mandated to beef up consumer protection policies to protect consumers against lousy service, and at the same time, ensure business users’ right to privacy.

He added that it would also be tasked to encourage the growth of the ICT industry by promoting investment opportunities for ICT firms, as well as by creating local and international partnerships to speed up industry growth and competitiveness. (Sunnex)

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