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Cybersecurity legislation critical for Macao’s smart city biometrics plans, Deloitte says

Cybersecurity legislation critical for Macao’s smart city biometrics plans, Deloitte says

Cybersecurity legislation is mandatory for Macau’s further development of its Smart City projects with biometric facial recognition, and their inclusion in national development, Deloitte cybersecurity consultants told Macau News Agency (MNA).

Three years ago, authorities in the Special Administrative Region partnered with the Alibaba Group to push smart city initiatives through cloud computing. The first stage was finalized last year and it was focused on cloud computing, smart transportation, smart tourism, smart healthcare, smart city governance, and talent development.

The Macau Cybersecurity Law of 2019 specified that public and private operators of critical networks have to comply with certain obligations to ensure the highest level of protection.

“The Macau government has been working together with Alibaba to focus on the four main – smart governance, smart tourism, smart healthcare, and transportation. All these initiatives require an enhanced level of digitalization, increasing the use of online-based platforms to execute the plan,” Sidney Cheng, Deloitte’s Macau Office managing director, told MNA.

Alibaba has helped introduce a centralized cloud-based platform to improve local administration. Cheng adds that there are different levels of digital transformation, but cybersecurity concerns are among top challenges.

“For the public sector, based on our knowledge, various governmental departments have obtained a cybersecurity certification (e.g. ISO27001), and they have a certain level of cybersecurity awareness and controls in place. With the cybersecurity law enforcement, departments will conduct assessments to evaluate compliance levels and develop cyber improvement plans,” Deloitte Risk Advisory Partner, Eva Kwok, told MNA.

According to Kwok, the demand for cybersecurity will be higher than ever once the city further expands IoT use as part of various Smart City projects. “Smart devices or IoT penetration testing demand is very important so that experts can check if there are any cybersecurity loopholes, coding issues that can potentially cause data leaks before these devices roll out of production,” she added.

Fearing attacks on its video surveillance system by hacker group Anonymous, the IT and Telecommunications Coordination Department of the Judiciary Police (PJ) strengthened cybersecurity capabilities earlier this year to fend off any potential attacks.

The ‘Eye in the Sky’ video surveillance initiative, which includes biometric facial recognition on public cameras, could be a particular area of concern, according to the report.

Initiatives planned by the local government include expanding the “Eye in the Sky” video surveillance project to 4,200 surveillance cameras, some with biometric facial recognition, installed in public spaces by 2028.

According to Tribuna de Macau, the Unitary Police Service (SPU) will begin testing the facial recognition surveillance cameras in Q3, after plans of earlier deployment were postponed due to COVID-19. The tests include some of the cameras in the “Eye in the Sky” project where 50 will be used for facial recognition and another 50 for license plate recognition.

“These works aim to guarantee the efficient use of this technique in supporting the police in the fight against crime, safeguarding the lives and assets of residents, while ensuring the right to privacy,” a police spokesperson told the newspaper.

In a previous statement, the SPU explained the use of facial recognition is only to improve police evidence collection.

The cameras will be installed in six phases, to reach total deployment of 2,600 by 2023 and 4,200 by 2028. The cameras have already been used in over 5,000 investigations between 2016 and 2020.

Deloitte explained that Mainland China Cybersecurity Law and Macau’s Cybersecurity Law are more focused on securing this critical infrastructure than protecting personal data, unlike GDPR.

“We’ve seen a surveillance system put together. I think it is for the best […] Of course with the cybersecurity law we now have a framework to work with, and that’s good for Macau as a whole”, Cheng noted to MNA.

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