Digital Integrity of Pakistanis: National Root Certification Authority Launches Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

Frameworks for ensuring the digital integrity of Pakistanis by establishing trust in cyberspace and safeguarding the public interest legally are essential for realizing the Digital Pakistan vision, and today’s launch of the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for the National Root Certification Authority is a step in the right direction.

Speaking at the Inauguration Ceremony Of the new digital system, Federal Minister for IT and Telecom Aminul Haque said Digital Pakistan is one of the flagship programs of the government and aiding Pakistan’s digital transformation will improve citizens’ quality of life and economic well-being by ensuring the availability of modern, affordable, and reliable digital services.

Speaking at the ceremony, the minister highlighted how rapid growth and adoption of digital technologies in all sectors of the economy are inevitable for the development of the country.

He remarked how very difficult it is to imagine any sector without digital technology. During the last two years of the pandemic, the country saw its dependence on digital technologies has increased manifold. While technology has the advantages of ease of doing things and managing various functions, it also brings a number of vulnerabilities and cyber threats.

The minister said these threats are increasing day by day with the development of cyberspace damaging the public trust in the digital environment. As Pakistan embarks on its journey towards becoming a truly Digital Economy, the establishment of regulatory frameworks for ensuring data protection, establishing trust, and maintaining the security of all digital transactions, documents, and systems are thus essential.

In order to establish trust in cyberspace and safeguard the public interest legally, Electronic Transactions Ordinance (ETO) was promulgated in 2002 in Pakistan. Under section 18 of ETO 2002, Electronic Certification Accreditation Council (ECAC) has been established under the Ministry of IT & Telecom.

Besides other functions, ECAC accredits and regulates the working of Certification Authorities (CAs). CAS issue Digital Signature Certificates for the authentication and security of users in cyberspace.

The minister explained that at present, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) based digital signature is the only technology, which qualifies as an electronic signature for secure and reliable electronic transactions under the ETO.

PKI is the foundation of modern information security that incorporates technology and personal identity in a way that it becomes capable to fulfill security needs all around the world, in all types of industries and organizations, governments, and in homes.

Aminul Haque said ECAC, with the support of MoITT, has deployed Pakistan’s National Root Certification Authority based on PKI that will act as a backbone for digital Pakistan. Ministry believes this is an extremely positive development and would indeed result in economic prosperity for the nation through the promotion of e-businesses, the creation of jobs for the youth, and numerous opportunities for the IT industry and e-commerce of Pakistan, he stated.

The minister pledged full support to Electronic Certification Accreditation Council (ECAC) as an arm of the Ministry of IT to fully implement the mandate under the Electronic Transactions Ordinance 2002 (ETO). In the end, he appreciated the efforts and congratulate Chairman and Council Members on achieving this milestone in one year which was pended for more than five years.

He also appreciated the National Telecom Corporation for providing technical and administrative assistance and making it happen on the fast track.