ICT Qatar: THE2013 Keynote

ICT Qatar: THE2013 Keynote

Ashraf Ismael & Khalid Al Hashmi presented National Information Assurance Framework: The Legal Landscape in Qatar this morning at the THE2013 conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

I have to admit I went into this session expecting little in terms of visual imagery or metaphor, and was pleasantly surprised with the engaging delivery of the speakers and their use of personal anecdotes and metaphors which inspired my sketches.

Legal issues surrounding policy and law in Qatar is a topical issue, and the two speakers were able to deliver a lot of information in a way that the audience could relate to. One of Khalid’s examples about seatbelt use hit home with us for several reasons. He spoke of his children and how their learning about buckling up impacted his family in a positive way. Change is slow in this regard, and in Qatar right now seatbelt safety is a big issue with much attention from public awareness campaigns. His point was that this change takes time and education is key in societal shifts such as seatbelt safety.

The analogy was then linked to the shift in thinking about regulation of internet content and the role of ICT and internet providers in censorship and protection of the members of this society. An audience member challenged the speakers on their assertion that ICT does not regulate content, asking why so much of the internet content in Qatar appears to be blocked. The explanation involves a process whereby citizens complain to local service providers and once a threshold is reached, sites are banned.

The speakers emphasized that information security is about enabling the flow of information and preventing misuse as well as protecting the values of the local culture (i.e., blasphemy laws are taken very seriously here in Qatar).

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