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Tonga: CERT Team Aims to Protect from Cybercrime
Source: matangitonga.to
Source Date: Friday, July 22, 2016
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: Tonga
Created: Jul 27, 2016

A four-man technical team known as CERT (or the Tonga National Computer Emergency Response Team) was launched by government on 15 July as a step toward enforcing the new Communications Act 2015 and the Communications Commission Act 2015 that were passed by Parliament last year, to guard Tonga from the dark side of the internet.

The bills were passed in October 2015, and assented by the King in February this year.

Paula Ma’u the CEO for the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Communication and Climate Change (MEIDECC) said that the new CERT team is made up of four very technical young men, based at the MEIDECC office, and working closely with Tonga Cable Ltd.

The team as guardians of Tonga’s internet, will advise government on cybersecurity and internet content, and are expected to detect and manage cyber threats and issues that affect government, businesses and individuals in Tonga.

“They will handle cases such as data leakage, computer viruses, hacking, and the vulnerabilities of applications and hardware,” Paula said.

The members of the CERT team are Taniela Seluini, Paula Latapu, Manager Saia Vaipuna and the Director of Information, Andrew To'imoana

International gateway
Since Tonga’s telecommunications network was connected to the Southern Cross Cable network in Fiji and onwards to the Equinix data centre in Australia in August 2013, Tonga has not make any definite move to protect its telecommunications users from users with criminal intentions.

The Equinix data centre in Australia is an international hub and Tonga’s gateway to the rest of the world.

In 2015, the Tonga government made a move to amend the 2000 Communications Act and to introduce a new Communications Commission Act.

However, the new Acts have not been enforced and according to Paula “the members of the Commission are yet to be appointed.” He agreed that the formation of the CERT team was a definitive move in that direction.

These are a few clauses of the new Communications Act that have sparked some fierce public debate, particularly over the powers given to the Minister of MEIDECC, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni. The Minister, along with CERT and the Communications Commission are empowered to make decisions over what people in Tonga may or may not be allowed to see and read.

Another clause that raised questions is Clause 106 – Take-down Notices.

Under this clause, the Minister may either in response to a complaint or on his own initiative, investigate whether a hosting service provider is hosting prohibited content. If after investigation it is concluded that the content hosted by a hosting service provider is either “Offending Content” or “Prohibited Content”, then the Ministry may give the hosting service provider a written take-down notice.

Under Clause 107 – Opt-out filtering, customers may request to a hosting service provider for a Family Friendly Filter. The customers may also request for the disabling of the Family Friendly Filter.

Clause 108 – Mandatory Filtering

The Ministry may, by declaration, determine a scheme to prevent access to child pornography otherwise accessible on the internet.

In addition to these latest efforts to protect Tonga from cybercrime, Tonga back in November 2013 submitted its intention to accede to the Council of Europe’s Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.

Tonga was officially invited by the Council of Europe in 2014 to accede to the Budapest Convention of Cybercrime. As a result of this invitation, Tonga has been considered a priority country under this project to prepare before its accession to the convention.

Paula said that Tonga has made it known to the Council of Europe it needs at least four more years of preparation before it could become a signature to the Budapest Convention of Cybercrime.
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