Govt proposing establishment of virtual innovation authority

The government is proposing to establish a body to govern, as well as to develop and promote all emergent technology and technology services with the Virtual Innovation Authority Bill, 2020, which is scheduled to be tabled at some time during this parliamentary period.

The authority, according to the bill obtained by Guardian Business, would be a body corporate and would establish a reserve fund. The role of the authority would include the support of national competent authorities which regulate various connect sectors while also “safeguarding the data protection rights of data subjects, developing policies to assist with the protection of vulnerable persons and the promotion of fair competition and consumer choice, and identifying support measures taken in relation to the identified risk framework and the commissioning of any other crime in or through the use of technology”.

The bill comes after the Central Bank of The Bahamas’ recently launched digital currency – which is currently being utilized on Exuma via a pilot program – and as the country prepares for other emerging technologies like blockchain.

The authority would also be exempt from paying any taxes and any liability for the payment of tax, duty on documents and transfers and customs excise duty.

The bill also prohibits the authority’s name from being used in any advertisement or any manner that is misrepresentative.

“No person shall make or cause to be made any advertisement or other representation in any visual or oral form. Whether the advertisement is made in The Bahamas or otherwise, either specifically or by implication to the effect that any technology service or technology arrangement is recognized or authorized by the authority when it is not the case,” the bill states.

The bill goes hand in hand with the Emergent Technologies Act, 2020 and prohibits the disclosure of confidential information by members and staff of the authority, including consultants.

The authority is required to establish and maintain a website which publishes public notices and registers, as well as copies of legislation and guidelines under which it is entitled and its contact information.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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