06/24/2022

Federal cabinet approves Cloud First Policy, Personal Data Protection Bill

Originally published in Dawn.com on February 16, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved the Cloud First Policy and the Personal Data Protection Bill, noting that the decision was crucial to move the country further into the digital world.

The Cloud First Policy has listed five classes for data, including open data in the public sector to make the government open and accountable and increase citizens’ participation in government’s affairs.

The other one is public data related to the public sector that is non-confidential and is publicly available.

It is followed by restricted data related to public sector business, operations and services, which is not sensitive in nature, while the confidential data is the information not intended to be published, but it can be accessed only by certain people having proper authorisation to do that.

The last one is the secret data that is information requiring the highest level of protection from serious threats as its breach can cause threats to life or public security, financial losses or serious damage to public interests, etc.

Giving details of the Cloud First Policy, federal Minister for Information Technology Syed Amin-ul-Haque said that the government initiative would help develop a common platform for all public sector departments as maintaining data caused massive financial spending and, at times, became difficult for the government departments to manage their data.

The minister said that developed countries of the world had a collective cloud service for their government departments to secure their official data and make it manageable.

“After this law is approved, data centres of federal ministries and departments will be shifted into the ‘central cloud’ and it will help reduce government expenditure, enhance data protection and increase efficiency of department’s online activities and services,” the minister said in a statement.

The cloud policy highlighted that the federal government had around 40 divisions with more than 600 affiliated departments, while there were numerous provincial ministries and their affiliated departments in the country.

“The country is undergoing a digital revolution and it has taken numerous initiatives for providing ICT-based solutions,” the policy said. The policy highlighted the need for setting up a Cloud Board consisting of the secretary of IT as its chairman with chief secretaries of the four provinces and two IT experts as members.

The Cloud Office will oversee the accreditation, quality, security and departmental IT affairs of cloud service providers. The Cloud Board would accredit the cloud service providers with required capabilities and equipment whereas the Personal Data Protection Bill would ensure protection of online data, information and privacy of the country’s citizens with their privacy being maintained.

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