ICT Open Forum Series 2012

TATT Bytes
December 2012

 Giving the public their say

Members of the public participate in the forum

Many citizens of Trinidad and Tobago watch television, listen to radio and own a telephone. Increasingly many are also using the Internet and mobile technology. The broadcasting and telecommunications sectors are an integral part of our daily lives and when new policies and regulations affect them, they also affect almost all of the general public. Mindful of this, TATT places great importance on public consultation when drafting new regulations and policies for the sectors.

ICT Open Forum Series 2012 gives members of the public and sector stakeholders an opportunity to discuss various topics of interest related to broadcasting and telecommunications in Trinidad and Tobago. These fora are open to the public and participants can benefit from presentations by local and international experts, communicate their views and even eventually influence TATT's policy positions on the topics.

"The primary objective of these fora," explained TATT's Chairman, Mr. Selby Wilson, "is to provide a platform to engage stakeholders in discussions on contemporary issues in the areas of telecommunications and broadcasting. The output of these discussions informs and influences TATT's policies and guidelines for the sectors."

In 2012, TATT's ICT Open Fora dealt with protecting the rights of children, cybersecurity and regulating media ownership.

Electronic media-children's friend or foe?

Dennis McComie  
Dennis McComie, veteran broadcaster and author  

How can the electronic media play a role in protecting children? Are there instances where electronic media can actually endanger children? These questions were the focus at TATT's 10th ICT Open Forum entitled "Protecting the Rights of Children-Role of the Electronic Media."

Held on Wednesday April 12, 2012, the 10th ICT Open Forum brought together members of the protective services, media house representatives, professionals in the area of child

  Ms. Kiran Maharaj, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers' and Broadcasters' Association
  Karen Moore
  Dr. Karen Moore, Clinical Psychologist
  Mrs. Margaret Sampson-Browne, Manager, Victim and Witness Support Unit, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service

welfare and concerned members of the public, to discuss this

subject. The presenters included Ms. Kiran Maharaj, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers' and Broadcasters' Association; Dr. Karen Moore, a clinical psychologist; and Mrs. Margaret Sampson- Browne, Manager, Victim and Witness Support Unit, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

Other members of the panel included Mr. Wilson and TATT's CEO, Mr. Cris Seecheran. Veteran broadcaster and author Dennis McComie acted as moderator.

In her presentation, Ms. Maharaj acknowledged that both the electronic media and parents had an important role in protecting the rights of children. Caregivers, she explained, should lead by example, choosing positive programming for both their children and themselves, and taking part in activities away from electronic media such as reading, art and performance.

Focusing primarily on the potentially negative impact of electronic media, Dr. Moore cited several studies that showed violent and sexual content on TV and radio could have a detrimental effect on children.

"One to two hours of daily, unsupervised TV viewing has a significant negative effect on academic performance, especially reading," she said.

Mrs. Sampson-Browne explained the evolution of women's roles in the police service, focusing particularly on their duties as protectors of children, a role, she said, that has been lost over time.

members_of_the_public01 members_of_the_public02  
Members of the public listen intently to forum presentations.

Speaking about the electronic media's potential for both good and bad, Chairman Wilson said:

"The media has the power to influence community and individual standards, and to shape societies. That is your power but it must be discharged honestly and with a tremendous sense of responsibility. The exercise of your power can result in both positive and negative consequences for society."


Protecting Yourself From Internet Threats

sergeant_sylvester kerry_ann_barrett
Sergeant Amos D Sylvester of the Cyber Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago Police Service addresses the audience Selby Wilson, Chairman of TATT, welcomes attendees to the forum Kerry Ann Barrett, Manager of Legal Services at the Ministry of National Security, follows up her presentation on cybercrime

The Internet has revolutionised the way we learn, play and communicate. It has become an important tool for productivity, efficiency and development. But as with any technology, with rewards there comes risk. One of the Internet's most prevalent risks is cybercrime. As the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago become greater users of the Internet, how can they protect themselves from these risks? This was the subject matter of the 11th ICT Open Forum-"Cyber Shield! Protecting yourself from Internet Threats".

Adesh Rampat  
Adesh Rampat, Manager of IT Security at Republic Bank Ltd, responds to a question from the audience  

The 11th ICT Open Forum took place on Wednesday August 15, 2012 at TATT's offices in Barataria. It dealt with the range of online threats-hacking, viruses, identity theft, data theft, credit fraud and child predators. Forum participants received presentations from Sergeant Amos D Sylvester of the Cyber Crime Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service; Mr. Adesh Rampat, Manager, IT Security at Republic Bank Ltd, representing the Bankers' Association of Trinidad and Tobago; and Ms. Kerry Ann Barrett, Manager, Legal Services, Ministry of National Security.

Chairman Wilson gave the welcome address on behalf of TATT, and broadcaster and actor Wendell Etienne moderated the forum.

Seeking to illustrate the scope of cybercrime, the TATT Chairman gave several statistics from the Symantec 2011 Internet Security Threat Report. The report showed that in 2011, 5.5 billion web attacks were blocked, 232 million identities were exposed, 403 million unique variants of malware (malicious software) were generated and there was an overall email virus rate of 1 in 239.

"The ills of society are not only reflected in the last murder and robbery but cross geographical and natural boundaries and enter the virtual realm," Mr. Wilson said.

In his presentation, Sergeant Sylvester discussed the different types of cybercrime, international and local trends in online malfeasance and measures being taken by the Government and protective services to combat cybercrime.

Mr. Rampat gave forum participants a detailed presentation on threats related to Internet banking and online fraud transactions. His recommendations for protecting users of Internet banking included-antivirus software and regular virus scans, updates (patches) to the computer's operating system and proper password management (use different, challenging passwords).

"Law enforcement efforts to fight cybercrime are dependent on a good public-private sector partnership," Ms. Barrett said.

The Ministry of National Security representative spoke specifically about Trinidad and Tobago's existing anticybercrime legislation and what is required to improve the nation's cyber protections.



Media consolidation - is the free market compatible with freedom of information?

Wendell Etienne  
Wendell Etienne, broadcaster and actor, performs the role of moderator  

Media consolidation is a fact of modern life. In Trinidad and Tobago, as in many other nations, there are media organisations that include television, newspaper and broadcast companies. For many companies, it is a profitable and sometimes necessary method of operating in the media landscape. But is this in the best interest of the public? Is there a danger that media consolidation can curb the public's right to information, freedom of expression and the right to participation?

On Wednesday September 12, 2012, this topic was debated in TATT's 12th ICT Open Forum. Under the theme "Should Media Ownership be Regulated?", media house representatives, human rights specialists and members of the general public looked at the delicate balance between media organisations' right to free enterprise and the public's right to variety in information and channels of expression.

The forum included presentations and a panel discussion with Mr. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Canada-based international human rights non-governmental organisation, Centre for Law and Democracy; Ms. Kiran Maharaj, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers' and Broadcasters' Association; and Mr. Cris Seecheran, Chief Executive Officer of TATT. Wendell Etienne moderated the event.

The packed audience of public participants included several well-known media personalities and representatives of media organisations and members of the general public, eager to voice their concerns and ask questions of Mr. Seecheran and the other panelists.

Speaking from a human rights perspective, Mr. Mendel gave examples of how countries such as France, the United States of America and Canada, handled the issue of media ownership in their own distinctive fashion. He also outlined the potential dangers of excessive media consolidation, such as a lack of representation for differing ideas and an imbalance of viewpoints favouring certain groups in society.

Ms. Maharaj spoke from a media owner's perspective, saying:

"Consolidation is a matter of survival. The growing level of concentration (meaning the high number of broadcasting, newspaper and television providers) in traditional media makes consolidation inevitable."

She also said there were benefits to consolidation-synergies in resources, costsharing and the use of the same content across multiple media.

CEO presents
CEO Seecheran presents a token of appreciation to Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy