A package of three E-Commerce Bills was passed in the House of Assembly yesterday. These were:

**Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill**: Creates the environment for the legal certainty necessary to instill confidence in online commercial activity in The Bahamas.

**Computer Misuse Bill**: Creates a series of offences arising out of the unlawful interference with computers and computer systems.

**Data Protection (Privacy of Personal Information) Bill**: Requires that information should be obtained by fair and lawful means and used in a manner consistent with that for which it is collected.

At the time the bills were introduced in Parliament last month, the Government also released its E-Commerce Policy Document, described as the “vision” for The Bahamas to become a centre of excellence for e-commerce. (See link below)

The Government has stated its intention of ensuring that The Bahamas keeps abreast of, conforms to, and embraces developments in information technology necessary to achieve the objectives outlined in its E-commerce Policy Statement. Moving forward, it said, it is the intention to promulgate additional policy statements as and when the need arises *”during the journey of transformation to a full-fledged digital economy”.*

**Grand Bahama Island Committed To Ebusiness Development**

In a keynote presentation to the Bahamas Business Outlook seminar in Grand Bahama earlier this week, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Minister of Financial Services and Investments, commented that the establishment of that island’s Sea/Air Business Centre is a major commitment to furthering goals to develop e-business there. She pointed out that the Centre has been developed for:

– Web hosting services, call centers and high security data storage;

– Warehousing and distribution facilities;

– Facilities for high-tech manufacturing of electronic components;

– Repacking for domestic and international markets;

– Pre positioning of goods for distribution centres

The infrastructure on Grand Bahama is said to rival that available in cities all over the world. Additionally, the strategic location of Freeport places it at the gateway of the Americas – the city is only a 35-minute plane ride from Southern Florida, and its harbor is one of the closest ports to the United States. Freeport is well positioned for global commerce as it is located at the crossroads of routes between Europe, North and South American trade links, and international shipping transiting through the Panama Canal.

Freeport has the ability to become a major port in the trading block that will extend from Alaska to Argentina by 2004. With its financial infrastructure, it is positioned to be a similar link as Hong Kong has become for the Eastern world. The Freeport Harbor is the proud accomplishment of the Grand Bahama Port Authority in partnership with the internationally renowned conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Limited, Hong Kong.