Guard against technology threats, Patterson warns - Caribbean countries democracy at risk
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has warned Caribbean countries to begin looking at ways to guard against crafty hackers who could compromise their democracy.
He noted that technology has proven to be a twin-edged sword, notwithstanding its clear benefits.
"How can we protect our people from targeted campaigns of misinformation?" the former prime minister asked. "The abuse and distortion threaten free and fair elections, which are at the core of every democracy," Patterson told the gathering at the inaugural Caribbean Advertising and Marketing Law Seminar held on Thursday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
"We in the Caribbean are not immune to cybersecurity threats, which are on the rise. All Caribbean countries need to guard against cyber attacks on our critical infrastructure and be vigilant if we are to prevent the use of bots in social media platforms to systematically shape public opinion and perception, and, thereby, shake the confidence in our democratic system," the former prime minister argued.
He made reference to the unfolding situation in the United States where there are allegations that a foreign country interfered with the 2016 presidential election, which ushered President Donald Trump into office.
"In order to know whether the message is real or false, we are obliged to make sure the messenger is reliable and not an impostor," Patterson advised.
In 2016, Commonwealth ministers, policymakers, and cybersecurity experts met in St Lucia to begin the process of addressing challenges and developing a coordinated regional action plan to prevent cybercrime and improve cybersecurity.