Thompson-Ahye: More education needed on electronic transactions

Independent Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye. - File photo
Independent Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye. - File photo

CHAIRMAN of the Parliament's Finance and Legal Affairs Joint Select Committee (JSC) Independent Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye has expressed satisfaction that some efforts are being made towards the development of a digital society.

But she also said there needs to be more education on how to do electronic transactions.

She expressed her views during a virtual meeting between JSC members and officials of the Digital Transformation Ministry on the Electronic Transactions Act 2011.

The act arose from the Electronic Transactions Bill 2011, with the objective to "give legal effect to electronic documents, electronic records, electronic signatures and electronic transactions."

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate on February 11, 2011 and April 5, 2011 respectively. It was amended in the Senate and the House approved the amended bill on April 18, 2011.

It was assented by the President on April 28, 2011 and the act was partially proclaimated on January 6 and 18, 2012.

As she outlined the committee's mandate to examine legislation which has not been proclaimed, Thompson-Ahye said it is unfortunate that this has happened over the years to different pieces of legislation which could have far-reaching implications for the population.

She recalled a major conference was held in TT in August-September 2015 to position this country as an e-commerce leader in the Caribbean, and wondered what had become of that initiative since then.

Digital Transformation deputy national chief digital officer Denyse White said in addition to the 2018-2020 National Information Communication Technology (ICT) plan, the ministry is trying to develop a national digital transformation strategy.

White added that the ministry is looking at the legal and regulatory framework to guide this strategy.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the ministry Cory Belfon said this strategy is important because of the ongoing advances in technology to which TT needs to pay attention. He added that things such as artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency were innovations that people may not have anticipated eight years ago.

Ministry executive legal adviser (ICT) Rudyard Davidson said while not all of the Electronic Transactions Act's sections have been proclaimed, the sections that have allow electronic transactions and helped create TT Biz Link, which has benefited many businesses.

Thompson-Ahye disclosed that she was recently out of the country and needed help from two of her relatives to help her return home in time for Friday's JSC meeting. She wondered whether she would have been able to return in time were it not for the technology her relatives had used to help her.

She admitted that people from her generation are not always au courant with technology and have to depend on younger people to do things for them.

"That's what I would like to see you (Digital Transformation Ministry) doing: more education about electronic transfers, about buying online, because people are so dependent on other people assisting them who may not be as honest as they should be."

She also spoke about people still having challenges in doing electronic transactions.

"We still have a lot of work to do, and we need to move forward. We are in a brave new world where things are not like our grandparents (knew them to be)."

CHAIRMAN of the Parliament's Finance and Legal Affairs joint select committee (JSC), Independent Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye expressed satisfication that some efforts are being made towards the development of a digital society in Trinidad and Tobago.

But she also said there needs to be more education about how to do electronic transactions..

She expressed her views during a virtual meeting held between JSC members and officials of the Digital Transformation Ministry on the the Electronic Act 2011.

The act arose from the Electronic Transactions Bill 2011, with the objective to "give legal effect to electronic documents, electronic records, electronic signatures and electronic transactions."

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate on February 11, 2011 and April 5, 2011 respectively. It was amended in the Senate and the House approved the amended bill on April 18, 2011.

It was assented by the President on April 28, 2011 and the act was partially proclaimated on January 6 and 18, 2012.

As she outlined the committee's mandate to examine pieces of legislation which have not been proclaimed, Thompson-Ahye said it is unfortunate that this has happened over the years to different pieces of legislation which could have far reaching implications for the population.

Thompson-Ahye recalled a major conference was held in TT in August-September 2015 to position this country as an e-commerce leader in the Caribbean. She wondered what had become of that initiative since then.

Digital Transformation Deputy National Chief Digital Officer Denyse White said in addition to the 2018-2020 National Information Communication Technology (ICT) plan, the ministry is trying to develop a national digital transformation strategy.

White added that the ministry is looking at the legal and regulatory framework to guide this strategy.

Ministry Deputy Permanent Secretary Cory Belfon said this strategy is important because of the ongoing advancements in technology which TT needs to pay attention to. He added that things such as artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency,were innovations that people may not have anticipated eight years ago.

Ministry Executive Legal Advisor (ICT) Rudyard Davidson said while not all of the Electronic Transactions Act's sections have been proclaimed into law, the sections that have allow electronic transactions to be made and helped create TT Biz Link which has benefitted many businesses operating in TT.

Thompson-Ahye disclosed that she was recently out of the country and needed help from two of her relatives to help her return home in time for Friday's JSC meeting. She wondered whether she would have been able to return to TT in time, where it not for the electronic technology her relatives used to help her.

Thompson-Ahye admitted that people from her generation are not always au courant with technology and have to depend on younger people to do things for us.

"That's what I would like to see you (Digital Transformation Ministry) doing. More education about electronic transfers, about buying online because people are so dependent on other people assisting them who may not be as honest as they should be."

She also spoke about people still experiencing challenges about how to do electronic transactions.

"We still have a lot of work to do and we need to move forward. We are in a brave new world where things are not like our grandparents (knew them to be)."

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