Google Loon not dead yet: ICTA

Hope still seems to be high at the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure and the Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka for the successful implementation of the failed ‘Google Loon project’, though the agency was slipping away from introducing some main initiatives.

Addressing journalists in Colombo, ICTA, Acting CEO, Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma said the Government and the Agency was optimistic on the successful launch of the once failed ‘Google Loon’ project.
According to him, Google is yet to respond to Sri Lanka regarding the project as it was seeking guidance on the frequency to be used to successfully launch the project.

He said that negotiations were underway with the International Telecommunication Union for the rights to use the frequency band required.

Further, the Agency, which is tasked with introducing a ‘Data Protection Act’ is currently looking at various models according to ICTA Director Legal, Jayantha Fernando, though it was nearly a year since the ‘Right to Information Act’ was introduced.

He said the Agency was waiting for the ‘Right to Information Act’ to be implemented before going ahead with the ‘Data Protection Act’. With the ‘Right to Information Act’ being implemented there are several other complications that ICTA needs to foresee before introducing the Act.

However, though ICTA had an idea of suitable models, the responses do not reflect any keenness on intruding the Act.
According to Fernando, the country needs to identify the best model. “Are we going for a centralized mechanism? Are we going for a stand-alone mechanism? Or are we going to follow a private model?”, he queried.
On the other hand, ICTA though has been successful in introducing various platforms and regulations; public opinion was that the outcomes were not felt to the extent that it was expected.
According to ICTA, Director – Special Projects, Kanchana Thudugala many initiatives were introduced by the Agency, however, some Government entities were not accepting the need to digitalize.

He said , “We can’t clap with one hand, the other hand too needs to collaborate”. He was referring to State entities which were failing to align with the Government’s digitalization policy.
According to ICTA, the Agency was on the way to implement many projects, such as digitalizing several Municipal Council to provide services online.

Accepting that there were setbacks in the programmes they had launched earlier, they highlighted the need to introduce regulations to mandate digitalization and updates to provide a better service to the nation.

Some of the projects initiated such as the e-Revenue Licence, Government Information Centre and some websites for various Ministries and Departments have come under heavy criticism for being not accepted, incorrect information and complexity.

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