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Nepal to enact electronic transaction law soon

The Nepalese government is soon to enact the Electronic Transaction Ordinance (ETO) or the Cyber Law of Nepal as it is called. The law would accord legal recognition to electronic records and digital signatures, which is being introduced for the first time in the country. The Government also recently appointed a Controller of Certification Authority (CCA) to deal with the issue. According to Deepak Rauniar, the newly appointed CCA, the ETO aims to protect enterprises by providing for offences of hacking, tempering data, secrecy violations, furnishing wrong information and furnishing wrong license or digital certificates.

Rauniar said, “The ETO comprises of three significant aspects— Legal recognition of electronic records, Regulation of Certification Authorities (CAs) and Cyber Contraventions. Besides creating the framework and the relevant infrastructure to carry out electronic transaction in Nepal, ETO also seeks to regulate the Internet in some form by making publication of obscene information in electronic form an offence. ETO will foster the initiatives especially with regards to e-governance and e-commerce. This has huge implications in terms of good governance, ICT and to the grass-roots level in Nepal.”

In China, CXTI signs US$41mn e-Government contract

A US$41mn e-Government contract to implement an e-Government system for the Shishi City Government in the Chinese Province of Fujian has been signed by China Expert Technology (CXTI), a company specialising in providing large-scale network infrastructure construction mainly for e-Government projects for communities and municipal governments in China. To commence in October 2006 and completed in September 2009, the project would help the Shishi City Government to improve the methods of management, increase administrative efficiency and reduce costs of operation. The e-Government project in China is aimed at building a united national government service platform.

Huang Tao, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CXTI, said, “We are excited to have been awarded a contract from the Shishi City Government. Amongst 83 cities and counties in Fujian province, only 7 of them have started their e-government construction and we have signed contracts with 6 of them.”

Malaysia to offer Digisign certificates

The Malaysian Inland Revenue Board (IRB) has decided to provide free secured digital signatures or Digisign certificates and free downloading of Adobe Reader software in order to encourage more than 3.5 million taxpayers to file their tax returns easily. Rahimah Abdullah, IRB Assistant Director, said, “Instead of signing on the printed tax return forms, the Digisign certificates offer the most comprehensive online security coverage on the Internet. To e-file a tax return, a taxpayer needs a digital certificate, income tax reference number, Adobe Reader 7.0.5 software, Internet connection and Internet Explorer 5.0 software. The digital certificate with registration slip and Adobe Reader software are provided free and can be obtained from the nearest IRB office.”

Abdullah added, “Upon obtaining the registration slip, taxpayers need to register the digital certificate. Taxpayers can either use their own computers or computers at the IRB, cyber cafes or work places to register the digital certificate and to fill and file their tax returns via the Internet. Taxpayers can also write to the IRB by providing their MyKad numbers and income tax reference and the confidential digicert would be mailed to them.”

Philippines UMID project in abeyance after budget cut

After the withdrawal of the planned PHP200mn (US$3.91mn) allocation from the e-Government Fund by the Philippines’ Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in early March, the Unified Multipurpose Identification System (UMID) project has currently been put in abeyance. The DBM decision comes in the wake of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directives that all unutilised allocations from the 2005 National Budget be redistributed to fund other government programs. However, the UMID project would now have to wait until the approval of the 2006 National Budget due to unavailability of any counterpart government budget.

Timoteo Diaz de Rivera, National Computer Centre Director General and UMID consultant, said, “Partner agencies in the UMID project were surprised to find out that they would not receive their allocation, especially since they have already received EUR100,000 (US$121,170.90) from the Spanish government as part of its grant to implement the UMID. The UMID project even stands to receive another EUR500,000 (US$ 605,730.89) from the Spanish government to implement an extensive pilot test wherein 10,000 cards would be issued to employees in six government agencies. The PHP1bn (US$19.56mn) e-Government Fund would be approved and that PHP200mn (US$3.91mn) would go to the UMID project.”

The UMID project, which aims to unify existing government Ids and streamline the delivery of government services, came into being after the signing of the Executive Order 420 by the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Now, e-Passports being issued in Japan

Taking cue from Sweden, Australia and Singapore in the issuing of e-Passports, Japan has also followed suit and started issuing its first e-Passports (electronic passports). Now, the government has decided to include an RFID tag with every 5-year, 10-year and diplomatic passport it would be henceforth issuing. Within the next 12 months, Japan expects to issue more than 3.5 million e-Passports. It is expected that all Japanese passports would carry an RFID chip within the next 10 years. There are 35 million passports currently in circulation in Japan.

The deploying of e-Passports is aimed at increasing security against counterfeited and forged passports. According to the Japanese government, each e-Passport would include a digital photograph of the holder on the chip as well as a physical photo in the passport. The authorities said that in the event of the physical picture on the passport being altered detection through comparison with the image stored on the chip would become easier. The new e-Passport chips, which would be embedded in the centre page of the passport for added protection, would also carry the bearer’s name, nationality, date of birth and passport number.

Earlier, Japan set up what it calls its e-Passport depository in Tokyo in February this year. The depository enables secure testing of e-passports from other nations to help ensure global interoperability of e-Passports. Elsewhere, the US Department of Homeland Security has begun a trial at San Francisco International Airport to test e-Passport readability and assess how the RFID interrogators (readers) and biometric equipment needed to process the e-Passports would impact the passport inspection process. As such, all newly issued US passports issued by early 2007 would reportedly contain RFID tags, excluding a small number of emergency passports issued by US embassies or consulates.

e-Government benefits for Philippines DFA

The innovative DFA Passport Direct Service and Express Passport Delivery Service of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has brought significant benefits, the DFA officials announced lately. With over 380,000 passports having been processed, there has been a marked decline in the endless queues and tiresome wait for passport applicants thus making it a thing of the past now.

The DFA Passport Direct service began five years ago, and has since served more than 189,000 clients and assisted more than one million Filipinos on their passport application and renewal inquiries. While availing this service, an applicant is required to dial the hotline, 731-100, after which a DFA Passport Direct Customer Care Officer would take up the pertinent customer information. Requirements, including old passports, are picked up from the client’s address. DFA Passport Direct processes the application and within six to eight working days, a new passport, together with the old one, is delivered right to the client’s doorstep. The service is also available online at

The Express Passport Delivery Service (EPDS), on the other hand, has served 191,000 new passport applicants. The EDPS, which is a delivery option desk within the DFA, gives applicants the option to have their passports delivered to their address instead of returning to the DFA office to claim their passports.

The Government of Philippines awarded the DFA in 2002 with Excellence in Governance with the use of IT in recognition of the success of its e-Government efforts.

China steps in to curb SMS fraud

China Mobile, one of China’s largest mobile providers, has cancelled services to some 19,000 subscribers in Zhuhai city for using SMS messages for fraudulent and criminal practices. The victims were sent text messages that were designed to prompt them to provide their financial information or remit money. The move comes in the wake of a decision taken last October culminating in the establishing of a hotline for mobile phone subscribers to report junk messages. The cancellations have been effected over the last six months. It may be noted that China’s mobile phone subscribers totalled 393.4 million by the end of 2005, and the subscribers’ base is expected to reach 440 million in 2006 as per Ministry of Information Industry estimates.

Yang Kaixiong, China Mobile’s chief manager for customer service, said, “Once we get seven or more complaints for one number, we’ll cut off the function so it won’t be able to send any more harmful messages,” and added, “China Mobile has employed 36 people to supervise its contracted Internet Service Providers (ISPs). If we receive more than 50 complaints concerning the same ISP, we instantly terminate the cooperation and report it to provincial headquarters. At least 44 ISPs have been found to violate the regulations, and 24 of them are expected to lose their contracts.”

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