Making E Work
E-Government has many meaning to everyone. For me, e-government is all about bringing basic public service online, using ICT and the Internet, and make it accessible to the masses. It will only be able to fulfill its purpose if it would include enabling citizens to transact with the government using e-commerce (“E”). That is one of the desire of Republic Act 8792 or the Philippine E-Commerce Law.
Make “E” affordable. Investing in e-commerce requires a significant resource that most SMEs don’t have. The amount usually needed is already considered as part of their working capital. Big buyers and ICT providers should make it easy for suppliers, who are mostly SMEs, to avail of these tools through easy to pay terms. That is why the creation of SME-FIT (Financing for Information Technology Build-Up) is more than timely as it will allow ICT providers access loans through rediscounting and have the flexibility of being able to offer hardware, software, website development, e-commerce solutions, training, certification in easy to pay terms for SMEs.
Make “E” secure. As we use e-commerce more regularly in our lives, through cellphone, computers, Internet, there’s always a certain degree of anxiety with regards to our privacy and security of business transactions. Note that our country’s E-Commerce Law empowers each one of us the capability to prosecute those who harm us. It is up to us if we will fight for those rights whenever we become victims of these abuses. Last July 21, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a data privacy guideline to further elaborate the law’s applicability in those areas, guide businesses and consumers in handling or protecting personal data that passes through computer systems today. To follow as well are data log retention guidelines, and consumer protection guidelines on e-banking, e-commerce, and telco-related services or VAS. For the 2007 budget, we should remind our legislators to ensure allotment on Cybercrime funding to both PNP and NBI to combat various forms of cybercrime from fraud, hacking, piracy, pornography, and the likes.
Make “E” work across the board– both public and private sector. Doing e-commerce can only be feasible and worth the investment if the parties whom we are dealing with also uses it, not only in the private sector but also in government. This is why we should push the release of government e-payment guidelines by the Department of Finance and DTI to enable revenue collecting agencies to accept citizen fees using various forms of e-commerce. This as a result will provide flexibility and efficiency for private sector in transacting with government. We also hope that the Supreme Court will release its rules on electronic notarization soon as there are transactions where this is necessary.
Making “E” work requires an array of policies that at times can be overwhelming at glance. With private sector”s active participation and government”s desire to boost its revenues, e-commerce is a solution that had to be embraced. It is also inevitable where policy makers can either be proactive or just react when problem arises.