The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) plans to hold public hearings to determine its role and responsibilities in relation to cybersecurity in the country.
The country’s communications watchdog has published a Government Gazette containing a discussion document to solicit written submissions in respect of its role and responsibilities in the regulation of cybersecurity.
“The evolution of technology is not taking place in an unregulated environment however, telecommunication regulators have been existing to regulate the technical, economic and social uses of Internet services,” says ICASA Councillor, Palesa Kadi.
“In this respect, the technology evolution in the telecommunication sector pushes for a need to determine the role of the regulators.”
The discussion document examines the role of various ICT regulators in the governance of cybersecurity in their respective countries.
The purpose of this process is to benchmark or compare the role of these regulators to ICASA’s role and to consult on whether it is necessary for ICASA to adopt similar responsibilities taking into account its mandate.
“It should be noted that while the Internet comes with many advantages, it has also introduced a new challenge to South Africa’s national security,” reads the discussion document.
“During the initial emergence of the Internet, safeguarding its security was less of a concern, but in recent years, the Internet has undergone exponential growth and protecting the security of consumers, businesses and the Internet infrastructure is key.”
The benchmark has revealed that cyber concerns are present in all countries, however, each country combats the presence of cyber threats differently, and generally, cybersecurity is not regulated by a single government institution but often government institutions work together and assign work amongst themselves as follows:
- the technical aspect of cybersecurity is often handled by regulators
- the aspect of public awareness about risks associated with online life,
- loss of privacy, exposure of children to child abuse material, is left to
regulators to conduct.
The discussion document states that cybercrime is regulated by the security clusters or government departments responsible for public safety in those jurisdictions.
It is recommended that, like many countries listed in this research, ICASA should consider adopting the following roles and responsibilities:
- Private sector cooperation and industry regulation;
- Capacity building;
- Research and development; and
- Regulation of Cybersecurity standards.
ICASA said it will consult with all interested parties before making a final determination on issues raised in the discussion document. Thereafter, the regulator will communicate its findings and positions through a Findings Document.
“With the role that ICASA plays in the ICT environment, it has found itself well positioned in terms of its mandate, resources, and experience to deal with current and emerging cybersecurity challenges,” says Kadi.
“Therefore, ICASA intends to adopt a flexible and adaptive approach to its cybersecurity efforts as threats to cybersecurity are constantly evolving.”
Interested parties are invited to give written submissions by 30 November.