Technological safeguards alone cannot ensure data security

It will take more than technology to protect national data – urged the participants of IID’s 8th Policy Breakfast. This segment of the Policy Breakfast Series themed ‘Security of National Data’ was held on 20th April in Dhaka.

Tarana Halim MP, the Honorable Minister of Post and Telecommunications, opened the event as the keynote speaker. She pointed out the government’s rationale behind implementing the biometric SIM registration program and highlighted various technological safeguards to keep the data processing safe. However, she stressed on the need for further consultation with the stakeholders in order to rectify any concerns present with the current approach. She appreciated the Policy Breakfast platform that allows the government to convey its rationale and at the same time the stakeholders can bring expertise and concerns to the table. Rafiqul Islam Rowly, Chairman of IID and former President of BASIS, made offered additional remarks on the topic before opening the floor for debate.

H.E. Benoit-Pierre Laramée, High Commissioner of Canada in Bangladesh stated that the Policy Breakfast was a unique opportunity for everyone to communicate their concerns in a constructive manner. The dialogue brought both the technical and social aspects of biometric database to the forefront of the debate. Former Mayoral Candidate, Mr. Tabith Awal said that as citizens we want to know how our data will be protected.  Across Bangladesh, many have expressed doubts regarding the extent to which the national data that is being collected is protected by the government.

Mr. Fahim Mashroor, CEO of BDJobs.com, highlighted that the issue of information security is a global concern and extends beyond Bangladesh. The data collected by the government belongs to the Bangladeshi citizens, and the policymakers are working with the data. Mr. Zohirurl Alam Tiemoon, CEO of Nerd Castle, urged that the Policy Breakfast served a critical function by bringing these two parties together in order to have a constructive discussion.

Although the participants agreed that the technology is sound, they believed that there are still some areas that can be improved. Professor Rokonuzzaman of North South University stated that data security can be maintained at five different levels – technology, functional process, supervising and monitoring, regulatory, and law enforcement and legal procedure.

Brig. General Md. Emdad ul Bari of BTRC also urged that there is still much to be done in Bangladesh in terms of cyber security. He said, there is a lot more to be done in terms of cyber security in Bangladesh but that the answer is not to reject technology but rather to improve on current technology so as to make it safer and more secure.

The debate ended with the house agreeing that Bangladesh needs to take additional measures to ensure complete data security. Even if the technology is foolproof, other layers of data security, such as regulations and law enforcement also needs to be ensured by the government. There should be clarity and transparency regarding how different layers of data security are ensured under the government’s protection.

Syeed Ahamed, CEO of IID, Moderated the session.
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