From Fragmentation to Integration to Harmonization: Outlining the Requirements for Effective Cyber Legislation Across CARICOM States


The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is comprised of 15 Member States. Its chief purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy. As it relates to cybersecurity, there are several programmatic deficiencies and significant fragmentation of efforts across Members states, primarily with regards to legislation.

There has been limited research exploring the regional harmonization of cyber laws across CARICOM. For example, some authors have touched on cyber-readiness at a high level, examining the cyber response capabilities of a few countries in the Caribbean region. However, these academic works have not provided an in-depth analysis of cyber legislation or enunciated the key requirements for legal reform. Others have broadened the scope of their cyber-readiness research to include Latin America and the Caribbean. However, lumping the Caribbean together with Latin America with regards to harmonized cyber legislation can be problematic due to factors such as history, language, traditionally weak political and commercial ties, size of countries, and disparate economic scenarios. In general, it must also be mentioned that cyber-readiness indicators don’t actually translate into a successful legislative framework or adequate protections against threat actors. Studies also fall short in articulating why harmonization is necessary for CARICOM Member States, and how the region compares to the likes of Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa with regards to a harmonized cybersecurity legal framework.

The scholarly justification for this paper is to challenge the effectiveness of the existing fragmented approach by first explaining why a harmonized cybersecurity legislative framework is important. I will then discuss some of the legal challenges associated with such an undertaking. Next, I will perform a comparative legal analysis with other regions that have taken similar steps, and use this as a lead-in to a SWOT analysis of CARICOM’s present cybersecurity posture. And finally, I will propose a legal framework that enables stakeholders in CARICOM Members States to more capably respond to transnational cybercrime.

Keywords: Cybersecurity, Cybercrime, Harmonization, Fragmentation, Integration, Cooperation, Cyber legislation

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