PM launches IT society, lauds its establishment

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Prime Minister Sogavare, third from left, gives the ITSSI President, Marlon Houkarawa a congratulatory handshake. Looking on are the Chief Executive Officer of Solomon Telekom, fourth from left, and members of the ITSSI Executive Committee. Photo: PM’s Press.

Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has launched the Information Technology Society of Solomon Islands (ITSSI) today, saying the establishment of the organization provides an excellent opportunity for the Government to obtain its professional views on the draft National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy.

The Prime Minister told members of the ITSSI and invited guests who gathered for the launching ceremony held at the Heritage Park Hotel that the National ICT Policy would be an important document upon which legislations governing the country’s use of emerging technologies will be formed.

He said the first meeting he had with the ITSSI last week, impressed upon him the pivotal role it would like to play in help shaping this policy which is perfectly in line with the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s desire to see the ITSSI become part of this important process.

“On this note, I urge you, the members of this society, to begin your national conversation about IT and the government will provide you with an avenue to channel your views to feed into the process that will allow this drafty policy to reflect the aims and desires of our people.

“The government is of the view that before the draft National ICT Policy is adopted, it needs to be seen through the eyes of Solomon Islanders.”

The Prime Minister said national security, social order and effective governance would be amongst many of the agendas topping the government’s list of issues that the country must be comfortable about in the proposed National ICT policy.

“Vital national security information falling in the hands of wrong people can be very damaging to the country and worries about the possibility of this happening is further compounded by the knowledge that even advanced societies in the world have experienced information hacking.

“Information hacking was hotly debated in the current United States election. The question of how capable we are to protect information that have national security concern can only be reliably answered by Solomon Islanders who are experts in this field.

“Under discussion as well is the question of whether we should require from the agents of mobile phones to keep a registry of all mobile set owners. This question arises from the experiences of many who received calls from anonymous callers making threatening remarks and there appears to be no effective way of tracing these calls to the callers. If there are, it is a long process.”

Prime Minister Sogavare said information technology is an effectively way of obtaining and disseminating information that are both good and bad and this is a ‘policy dilemma’ that the government and ITSSI must work together in addressing to avoid ‘throwing the baby with the water.’

On the positives of Information Technology, the Prime Minister said the Government believes that decision-making process of the government can be effective and be of the expected standard if supported by factual information.

“A simple example is population growth. When birth registry is not properly and effectively updated and maintained in a timely manner, how sure are we that our population growth is still within the acceptable level? Information can go a long way in ensuring that relevant and reliable information are provided in a timely manner to help decision-making,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that at present most government ministries operate in little silos dispersed over the entire government machinery and these little silos have collated data, software and hardware that in many instances differ from one ministry to the next.

He said the ITSSI has a pivotal role in establishing such standards as technological advances wait for no one, adding that there is no better placed institution that can help establish standards other than a group of dedicated, vibrant and forward-looking professional members of the ITSII.

Source: PM’s Press/Solomon Today Post

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