The following is a speech (English only) by Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mr K C Kwong, at Hongkong Post Certification Authority Inauguration Ceremony today (Monday):
Mr Luk, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to attend the Inauguration Ceremony of the Hongkong Post Certification Authority this morning.
Security of electronic communication over open networks is a major concern of those who use the Internet. It is also the primary reason why many people refrain from purchasing goods or services over the Internet as they are reluctant to give out personal or credit information in such an open environment.
The Government fully recognises this concern. To encourage the development of electronic commerce and to enable it to take hold and flourish in Hong Kong, we must have a safe and secure environment for the conduct of electronic transactions. That is why we have decided to establish a local public key infrastructure as a major initiative in our Digital 21 IT Strategy.
With the use of public key cryptography, digital signatures and digital certificates issued by properly accredited certification authorities, parties to an electronic transaction will be able to authenticate the identity of each other, ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the messages exchanged, and guard against repudiation of the transaction made with those messages.
I am glad to see the Hongkong Post taking the lead in establishing the local public key infrastructure. Through the dedicated efforts of its staff, it has put in place the necessary systems and procedures in less than a year from the word "go". It is now ready to issue public/private key pairs and digital certificates to the public. This represents a major milestone in our strategy to develop Hong Kong into a leading digital city in the globally connected world of the 21st century.
Through the years, the Hongkong Post has delivered our physical mail in a secure and reliable manner to all destinations. In the digital world, the Hongkong Post will likewise provide us with a secure and reliable certification service to support our electronic communication. I should point out that the Hongkong Post does not have any exclusivity in the provision of certification services. And it will have to comply in full with the code of practice issued by Government on the operation of recognised certification authorities. That is to say, the Hongkong Post will have to compete with certification authorities in the private sector on a level playing field. That said, as a trading fund, the Hongkong Post is used to running its operations on a commercial basis. I am sure that the Postmaster General and his staff are confident that they can compete effectively on the basis of quality and efficiency of service against certification authorities in the private sector.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to our business and academic institution partners in this electronic business venture. The state of the art technology they have contributed have helped to ensure that the certification service of the Hongkong Post will be secure, reliable and user friendly. I would also like to commend the staff of the Hongkong Post for their dedication and professionalism in making this project possible. Your efforts have helped to ensure that Hong Kong will play a leading role in promoting the development of electronic commerce in the region. I wish the Hongkong Post Certification Authority every success in its operation.
END/Monday, January 31, 2000