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ICTA tasked with National Certification Authority functions

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The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) was recently vested with the National Certification Authority (NCA) powers by a special gazette notification. The gazette establishes ICTA as the Certification Authority for the purpose of the Electronic Transaction Act. Disclosing further steps ensuing from the gazette notification and the importance of the NCA, ICTA Chairman, Senior Presidential Advisor and Peradeniya University Chancellor Prof. P.W. Epasinghe said: “A unit is being established within ICTA with the support of the professional expertise available within ICTA and the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) to implement the additional obligations imposed on ICTA under the Electronic Transaction Act. The setting up of the NCA is a long-felt need. It will greatly help further strengthen and enhance the information security and digital signature framework in the country.” Commenting on the legal aspects of setting up the NCA, ICTA Program Director/Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando said: “The establishment of the National Certification Authority (NCA) is mandated under section 18 of the Electronic Transaction Act to regulate the Certification Service Providers (CSPs) issuing Electronic Signatures in Sri Lanka. The establishment of NCA is pursuant to a recent gazette order, sequel to several legal issues being resolved, including an opinion of the Honourable Attorney General.” ICTA has already established a task force to govern and administer the National CA. The task force is jointly chaired by the Central Bank and ICTA represented by Central Bank Asst. Governor Janakie Mampitiya and ICTA Program Director/Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando. Other members of the Task Force are Addl. Secretary Defence Rohan Seneviratne, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) Director General Anusha Palpita and Lanka Clear Ltd. (the National Clearing House) CEO Sunimal Weerasuriya. The Task Force is supported by Sri Lanka CERT led by Sri Lanka CERT CEO Lal Dias. Referring to the Act on which the setting up of NCA is founded, the ICTA Legal Advisor said: “The Electronic Transaction Act establishes the legal basis for resolving uncertainty in relation to electronic contracts, e-commerce, e-business and even e-Government activities”. This Act was formulated to support the private sector, ICTA sources said. Delving into the background that led to the setting up of the National CA, Jayantha Fernando said: “The banking sector has been at the forefront in setting up a digital certificate framework in Sri Lanka. In order to have the appropriate information security safeguards and instil greater customer confidence, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka worked closely with ICTA and gave the mandate to Lanka Clear Limited (LCPL) to become the financial sector Certification Service Provider. On 22 May 2009, Lanka Clear launched Sri Lanka’s first Certification Service Provider. This effectively became the first entity issuing digital certificates to commercial banks and is branded as Lanka SIGN. The legal and policy measures in connection with the establishment of this LankaSIGN CSP were formulated by ICTA. Since the launch of LankaSIGN the volume of SLIPS settlements increased significantly due to the enhanced safety and security to such transactions, resulting in greater user confidence in the system.” In November 2009 the second Certification Services Provider was established and it became known as the “Lanka Government Network – Certificate Authority” (LGN-CA). The LGN CA is designed to facilitate the digital certificate requirements of the public sector Government organisations in Sri Lanka.  LGN-CA will issue digital certificates to organisations after following a specified request validation and approval procedure. The National CA would serve as the standard-setting body to regulate the Certification Service Providers in Sri Lanka.

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