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Islamabad: The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Data Protection Bill and Cloud-First Policy under which Data Centres of the federal ministries and departments will be phased out into the cloud, which will reduce government expenditure, protect data, and increase the efficiency of departments’ online activities and services.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque, while talking to Business Recorder, here on Tuesday. Talking about the Cloud-First policy, Haque said that the process of heavy spending and upgrading of various data centres of ministries and departments is difficult for which it was necessary to have a common platform. Developed countries also receive cloud services for their government departments to secure their official data.

He said that data centres of federal ministries and departments will be phased out into the cloud with the required requirements which will reduce government expenditure, protect data and increase the efficiency of department’s online activities and services. “The Cloud Board will consist of secretary IT as chairman, chief secretaries of the four provinces and two IT experts.

The Cloud Office will oversee the accreditation, quality, security and departmental IT affairs of Cloud Service Providers,” he added. Haque said that federal ministries and more than 200 departments, authorities and autonomous bodies each have their own small or large data centre whose operational costs have always been a problem and a burden on the national exchequer. They will all be able to move to a sharing platforms and get more efficient and secure services than before on a modest monthly payment according to their needs.

Regarding the procedure, the federal minister said; the Cloud Board would accredit the cloud service providers with the required capabilities and equipment. The board will then, through the Planning Commission, and the PPRA, ensure that any federal ministry or agency can review data or equipment requirements and transfer them to the cloud.

Cabinet likely to approve ‘Personal Data Protection Bill’ today

The board will also ensure that existing data centres are phased out to the central cloud, while the operational office will provide technical assistance to departments about transferring on clouds.He said that the Cabinet has approved the Personal Data Protection Bill in principle after which it will be presented in Parliament. This bill will become an act after approval by the parliament. The bill aims to ensure the privacy of online data, especially for citizens, public and private entities, while Cloud First policy will cover federal ministries, departments, and autonomous entities.

Haque thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and all the members of the federal cabinet for approving the policy and the bill and said that this process would help Pakistan to adapt to the digital world in terms of global requirements.

Referring to the Personal Data Protection Bill, the Federal Minister for IT said; “Its primary objective is to ensure the protection of online data, information and privacy of Pakistani citizens, while maintaining their privacy. In this regard, all relevant public and private institutions will ensure that their data, services, ICT products and systems are in line with the requirements of cyber security”.

He said that regular meetings of the Drafting Committee of Personal Data Protection Bill were held not only in these meetings but also in the meetings of the relevant committees that expressed their complete satisfaction on the draft. Be it the Personal Data Protection Bill or the Cyber Security Policy, the top priorities in both are national security and the complete protection of the online data and personal information of common citizens and businesses, he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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