LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to adopt Web3.0 – a technology that can decentralise web and control data leakage, selling and hacking.

Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi constituted a 22-member committee, led by finance as well as information and technology ministers, and tasked it with doing a detailed analysis, study, and research and giving policy interventions, future road map and actions to be taken for adoption of Web 3.0 in Punjab. The committee was directed to submit its report in four weeks.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan only a day earlier stated that the ruling coalition was allegedly making “deep fake” videos to malign him and his party.

Information technology experts believe that sometimes sensitive data becomes vulnerable just because of lack of awareness and common sense and the hackers attack through the weakest link. They believe that the audio and video leaks recorded by some on their own devices will always remain a threat for those not ensuring secrecy.

IT minister says initiative to create new economy

Sharing the committee notification, Information and Technology Minister Dr Arslan Khalid tweeted: “Disrupting business as usual; Under web 3.0 we want to find avenues in “new economy”, “tech R&D” and create a pool of new talent that can be part of the Web 3 ecosystem. Pakistan’s future stands on two pillars: youth and digital – both part of core manifesto of the PTI and Imran Khan.

Information Technology University Vice-Chancellor Dr Sarfraz Khurshid says the Web 3.0 could help decentralisation of ever-evolving internet and distribute it in government offices, industries and changes in encryption would help protect data in a more robust manner.

Dr Khurshid said the Web 3.0 is a combination of technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency. He said the government should consider how blockchain could be used to ensure fairness, transparency and restrict tampering with record.

With regard to cryptocurrency, Dr Khurshid said it would be important whether the government wanted to adopt it officially and regulate it or not.

“While introducing such technologies, the government needs to be very cautious and create awareness and introduce in phases so that no one could swindle the general public,” he said.

The Punjab government’s Web 3.0 committee will engage stakeholders from industry, academia and government to arrive at a robust roadmap and concrete action items for the adoption of Web 3.0 ecosystem in the province.

As per the notification, the members of the committee will also propose action items to explore other areas of Web 3.0 like Metaverse as well as Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) and suggest measures for implementation. Additionally, the committee will also be responsible for suggesting measures to create an enabling environment taking into account the legal, financial and regulatory frameworks of Pakistan.

The members of the committee will also study the global best practices being adopted by different countries on these subjects including but not limited to the UK, the USA, China, and Japan etc. The committee will also suggest implementation of research and development regime in the context.

The committee will also study all aspects of crypto-currencies, virtual currencies, NFTs & Metaverse pertaining to its pros and cons; legal, operational and taxation issues; implications, adoption in reference to trading, mining, legal provisions and all other related issues.IT Minister Dr Arslan Khalid said the Punjab government had launched the initiative to use the latest technologies and get its due dividends. Stating that though the technologically advanced countries had yet not gripped it well, he said, Pakistan could not wait to jump into this hi-tech technological regime and needed to do its part.

“This road map will not be limited but help create a pool of talented youth to meet the growing need of qualified human resources,” he said and added that Pakistan’s youth bulge must be trained so that they could join the top IT companies at home and abroad.

Dr Khalid said the road map for adoption of Web 3.0 and its regulations would remain a subject for inclusive feedback from all concerned, including industry and academia. He said a customized portal would be developed to get feedback from all stakeholders. He said international companies would be allowed to open their offices in Pakistan and the Pakistani talented youth could also go abroad for lucrative jobs.

About the audio and video leaks of politicians and state functionaries, the IT minister said there might be hacking aspect but mostly it would be bugging and not hacking of data officially or personally stored somewhere.

The Punjab Information Technology Board will provide logistic and secretarial support to the committee.

The committee comprises Punjab law and parliamentary affairs secretary, PITB chairman, P@SHA chairman, policy and domain expert Dr Hussain Nadim, ICT industry experts, including Anooshay Shaigan, Sabina Zafar, Badar Khushnood and Faisal Chaudhry. The other members of the committee include NetSol CEO Salim Ghauri, Systems CEO Asif Pir, Techlogix CEO Salman Akhtar, STEPS CEO Umar Farooq, ITU VC Dr Sarfraz Khurshid, representatives from SBP, NBP, BOP, FBR, SECP and PITB DG e-Governance Sajid Latif.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2022

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