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DICT amends Philippine Cloud First Policy

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently amended its Cloud First Policy to provide clearer instructions on policy coverage, data classification, and data security.

It also covers policies on sovereignty, residency, and ownership as the government transitions to the ‘new normal’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release, DICT said that the Philippine government’s Cloud First Policy promotes cloud computing as the preferred technology for government administration and the delivery of government services.

Shifting to cloud computing is expected to foster flexibility, security, and cost-efficiency among users. Cloud computing also offers key advantages such as access to global systems of solutions, innovations, and services, as well as up-to-date cybersecurity.

The recent amendments clarify which institutions will be covered by the policy and which institutions are only be encouraged to adopt it. This distinction is absent in the former version.

As amended, the Cloud First Policy covers all departments, bureaus, offices, and agencies of the executive branch, government-owned and/or controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), local government units (LGUs), and all cloud service providers and private entities rendering services to the government.

Meanwhile, the Congress, the Judiciary, the Independent Constitutional Commissions, and the Office of the Ombudsman are encouraged to adopt the Cloud First Policy, the release added.

The amendments also clarify the government’s policy on data sovereignty, a concept that was confused with data residency in the previous version.

In the latest version of the policy, the application of Philippine laws over its foreign counterparts is asserted over data owned or processed by the Philippine government or any entity that has links to the Philippines.

Additional provisions on ICT capacity building and development of essential skills to meet international and local standards are also included.

Data classifications are updated to include the following: highly sensitive government, above-sensitive government, sensitive government, and non-sensitive government data.

The new classifications provide a more consistent structure to guide the application of safety protocols on the access, storage, processing, and transmission of data in the cloud.

The DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, said that the department is continuously updating policies to adapt to the present times.

With the amended Cloud First Policy, it is paving the way to an ICT policy environment that is more responsive to current needs, further filling gaps in the country’s digitalisation efforts.

The recent amendments to the Cloud First Policy are expected to further enable government agencies to serve the public more efficiently.

With concise guidelines, government agencies can now implement cloud-based services that are at par with global standards.

DICT-10 has also planned a project to implement free WiFi sites in 353 locations across the country, a press release has noted.

The DICT Assistant Regional Director, Frederick D.C. Amores, shared that even before the pandemic, the department was looking to make connectivity available in various institutions.

DICT has training programmes for digital marketing and online jobs, among others.

In the coming years, the department intends to have a stronger network for government, schools, and SUCs to connect to the internet.

Among the key programmes, the DICT is promoting is the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which will use digital signatures.

The Director explained that there are still areas with no internet connection because they are not viable for commercial telecoms to come in while others are beset by armed conflict, making it difficult to install communication facilities.

One possible, but expensive, solution is the use of satellites to bring connectivity to those areas with no signal or connection.

DICT also proposes a broadband network for the government across the region and Mindanao. It is important to build internal capacity for the government to provide connectivity.

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