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Internet usage gap widens | Public policy and the Internet | Impact of the Net report | US state of the Internet 2000 report | EC Information Society web sites | Framework Programme - Europe needs more | eEurope 2002 - EU action plan | The impact of convergence | Electronic government | International "management" of the Internet names | The European response | Internet domain name IPR | Information Society - OECD studies and workshops | Information Society - UK Government Initiative | Policy and the Information Society | Towards a sustainable Information Society | The digital economy and Ireland | French government policy | Measuring the Information Society | Socio-economic impact of the Information Society | Europe's two-speed Information Society | Technology convergence - the implications for regulation | Telecommunications | Taxation and e-Commerce | Application of multimedia and its environment to the year 2010 | Internet Development | Developing the Internet | The US National Information Infrastructure (NII) | US "Digital Economy" | Next Generation Internet (NGI) | Internet2 | National data grid (US) | US digital TV strategy "in disarray" | Other information points
Information engineering needs to keep a clear perspective on the options that will be available and the needs it must meet, as the information society grows so rapidly and new building blocks come on the market. At present there is no shortage of views about the future - only picking the right ones is difficult. Here are some pointers to those views.
Analysis carried out by European Telework Online (ETO) on seven years' data from EITO reports (European IT Observatory) shows that the gap between the USA and Europe in effective use of Internet and related technologies is widening and most likely will continue to do so.
According to a news release the analysis shows that:
- in 1992 average US investment as a percentage of GDP was running at about 50% higher than in Europe, but by 1998 (the most recent reported year) it was almost double the European level;
- since USA per capita GDP is higher than in Europe, and growing more quickly, this understates both the current spending gap and the rate of increase in the gap;
- looking at investment per capita, USA spending on IT has been double that of Europe every year, with the exception of 1992 when the US spent about 50% more than in Europe;
- the USA's cumulative level of investment per head of population over the years 1992-1998 was 2.15 times that of Europe.
As a result of these differences, by the end of the period the USA had more than 50 PCs for every hundred people, while European Union countries had, on average, only 20.
ETO contends that, "this suggests that dot.com investors who expect Europe's Internet results to follow USA with only a year or two lag may be in for a rude awakening". 31/05/00
UCLA have released a comprehensive report on the impact of the Internet in American Scoiety. The report, the cornerstone of the World Internet Project organised by the Center for Communication Policy, gives an excellent snapshot of how the Internet is being seen to influence the lives of adult and juvenile Americans.
The UCLA Internet Report, titled "Surveying the Digital Future," was designed to create a "baseline profile of behavior and attitudes" about both Internet users and non-users: what users are doing online, media use and trust, consumer behavior, communication patterns, and social and psychological effects. 10/11/00
URL: download the full text as pdf http://www.ccp.ucla.edu/
URL: press release http://www.uclanews.ucla.edu/Docs/LSHL514.html
The United States Internet Council was formed in 1996 as a nonpartisan-educational resource for state and federal policy makers. This year's "State of the Internet 2000" report , the second, was researched primarily on the Internet, drawing from media and other publicly available resources.
The authors have also included personal insights and applied their expertise in a concise and targeted manner to provide an easily accessible overview of the state of the Internet and the forces, practices, and technologies that are changing this dynamic medium. The report has sections on world developments on the Internet, social trends, technology, e-business and a look forward. 12/09/00
Restructuring within the European Commission has led to the information concerning the Commission's Directorates-General (DGs) and the matters they deal with being put onto the Europa server. Below are the revised URLs for the Information Society DG and the Information Society web pages. 10/03/00
URL: Information Society DG http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/information_society/index_en.htm
URL: Information Society http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/information_society/index_en.htm
The EU will need more than the Framework Programme if it wants to achieve targets set at the Lisbon summit to face the challenges of the new economic situation and become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world. This is the main message to emerge from the latest five-year assessment of the European Commission's research and technological development (RTD) Framework programme.
Continuation of the Framework programme is recommended after a generally positive assessment of Third, Fourth and the beginning of the Fifth Framework Programmes, but major reforms will be necessary to make it simpler for participants and to reduce administrative burdens on the Commission, it advises. 28/07/00
Eurvoice, a web site that has been set-up by the European Information Society Forum (funded by the European Commission), intends to encourage EU citizens to discuss all aspects of the Information Society.
The Forum intends to use the various online discussions to provide guidance on authoring an Information Charter for presentation to the European Commission. 05/05/00
A number of MEPs have joined together to form the European Internet Foundation, which plans to cooperate with other bodies, most notably the European Commission, on issues arising from the emergence of new information society technologies.
A web site is planned, to bring the issues raised to a wider European audience. 24/03/00
The European Union Council adopted a new eEurope action plan at the end of June. The plan sets out a strategy to address key barriers to the uptake of the Internet in Europe and ensure that the conditions are set for a decisive move towards the new economy. It proposes that Member States and the Commission bind themselves to achieving the following three objectives quickly: a cheaper, faster, more secure Internet; investing in people's skills and access; and stimulating the use of the Internet. The action plan is now available on the web. 22/08/00
"New Information Services", is a paper which considers the implications of the continuing confluence of the computing, communications and consumer electronics industries and its likely impact on Society and citizens. It touches on user requirements for effective tools for creating, processing, and accessing information.
The UK's Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL) has published an updated version of its "Broadcasting & Convergence" web pages. This section of the web site outlines the role that OFTEL has in this area, and lists the published consultation documents, statements and submissions that deal with broadcasting regulation.
OFTEL acknowledges that "the onset of digital technology has, created a new set of challenges and responsibilities for Oftel. 'Convergence' - the process by which the same content can be transmitted over different mediums - has meant that the world of telecommunications and television are growing ever closer, particularly in the area of digital interactive services. It will therefore be possible for the consumer to access a variety of digital services over terrestrial broadcast, satellite, cable or even new higher bandwidth telephony products such as ADSL, which allows broadcast content over the telephone network". 14/04/00
URL: Broadcasting & Convergence http://www.oftel.gov.uk/broadcast/index.htm
URL: OFTEL http://www.oftel.gov.uk/
The US Internet Policy Institute has published a paper by Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder that examines the relationship between US productivity and the Internet. Blinder's paper, "The Internet and the New Economy", examines possible explanations for why US productivity accelerated at about the same time that the Internet became a critical communications tool for businesses.
It is the second of a series of briefing papers, on key economic, legal and social issues affecting the Internet, aimed at presidential candidates and high-level policymakers. 15/02/00
In the next generation of e-commerce, the focus will shift from competition based on price to competition based on quality and service, according to a briefing paper published by the Internet Policy Institute. The paper, entitled: "The Internet and E-Commerce", is one of more than a dozen scheduled for publication in the IPI's "Briefing the President" project.
Among the conclusions reached in the paper:
- Congress should act to ensure the legal enforceability of contracts and signatures in electronic form. This will be crucial in facilitating the transition of traditionally off-line transactions, such as real estate purchases.
- Government and industry must work together to protect the confidentiality and integrity of information and to support user choice, while also supporting the legitimate needs of law enforcement and security.
- By 2003, the US share of global e-commerce is expected to decline to about 54 percent as e-commerce explodes in Western Europe and industrial Asia.
- The next Administration should work with industry and with foreign governments to ensure reliable and safe cross-border transactions.
The complete briefing paper and previous papers by Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Alan Blinder and Jim Barksdale, are available online, at the Institute's web site.
The IPI is the US's first independent, nonprofit research and educational institute created to provide objective, high-quality analysis, research, education, and outreach on economic, social and policy issues affecting and affected by the global development and use of the Internet. 31/03/00
Datamonitor has recently completed IMPACT - research and analysis of Europeans' attitudes towards the uptake of new media technologies, covering: Internet and online usage, E-commerce, pay and digital TV. The research investigated the perceptions of 12,500 European consumers between March - April 1999. By confirming the current status, then building a picture of the short, medium and long term requirements, it reveals consumer habits when shopping over the Internet (how long they are spending, what products they are buying online) and digital television (which Pay-TV services consumers are subscribing to).
A sample of some of the findings of the survey revealed that:
- Whilst retail chain Dixons has captured 17% of UK consumer online access market through its Freeserve offering, customers want quicker connection.
- Germany leads Europe's e-shoppers with 6.3% having ordered products using their home PCs compared with 5.9% in the UK - the abundance of shopping services on the dominant T-Online service in Germany has apparently boosted penetration there.
- France is leading Europe in online banking with 16% claiming to have banked online in April 1999, compared with just 2% in Italy. The report contends that popular Minitel banking services have primed the French for PC banking, leading to the much higher penetration than elsewhere in Europe.
- The UK leads Europe in online payment, primarily due to the high level of Internet uptake in the UK.
"E-Mail Communication Between Government and Citizens Security, Policy Issues" is a paper published by the US Markle Foundation's, "E-Mail for All" programme. The preamble of the paper emphasises that modern network technologies - particularly electronic mail and the Web - offer the potential for significantly enhancing communication between government agencies and their citizen clients.
Because much of the communication between governments and citizens involves the transmission of sensitive information, however, the full potential of these new media will not be realised until means are developed for secure interactions. The networking infrastructure and technology to support secure communications exists today. What does not exist, however, and does not appear to be imminent, is the institutional, organizational, and administrative infrastructure to support a potentially universal system (ie. available to any citizen who wants it) for secure and binding e-mail communication between government agencies and citizens.
There is a further discussion forum entitled: "Electronic Communication Between Government and Citizens: Why?" which focuses on four themes: universal email; universal Internet; networking communities; private and public roles . Each theme has a web page with discussion questions, essays and articles, news items, and links to online resources.
A significant study entitled "Eliminating Legal and Policy Barriers to Interoperable Government Systems" was undertaken by the US Intergovernmental Enterprise Panel (IEP). Several parts of the report include recommendations about the Global Information Locator Service (GILS), a formal solution to the sharing of metadata. One of the most important steps in the commitment to GILS is the establishment of a clearinghouse to accumulate GILS experiences and best practices.
Documents Worldwide, (DOCWORLD-L), is an unmoderated electronic mailing list devoted to "sharing government information worldwide." The list will serve as a forum for librarians, researchers, and information professionals to discuss topics such as: "freedom of access to government information, trends in government publishing, and announcements of new government publications of note, including indexes, web sites, and other tools that assist in accessing government information." The list is sponsored by the International Documents Taskforce of the American Library Association's Government Documents Round Table.
The Italian Information Society Forum was established by the Italian Government to define an action plan and to promote and coordinate the development of "Information Society initiatives". The Forum publishes a newsletter, in English, which is available to all interested parties. 08/02/00
URL: Italian Information Society Forum http://www.palazzochigi.it/fsi/
URL: newsletter http://www.palazzochigi.it/fsi/eng/archivi/newsletter14.htm
Responding to the European Commission green paper: "Public Sector Information: a Key Resource for Europe" the UK's Library and Information Commission (LIC) suggests that a clear distinction needs to be made between issues of freedom of information and citizens' access to public information. The LIC believes that solutions need to be "demand-led and event-centred", and not necessarily based on existing institutional structures. The LIC also believes that mapping public information provision throughout Europe and identifying gaps should be an early task which would make it possible to set Europe-wide minimum standards for provision, access, quality, navigation and finding aids. The full text of the LIC response is available from the LIC web site.
According to a press release from the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE) the US government, through a Green Paper (released January 30, 1998 by the US Department of Commerce) provides a step in the right direction to ending the US government control over the domain name system (DNS) and opening the Internet to international competition.
However, CORE says that some of the proposed steps appear to add new levels of US government regulation for an undetermined amount of time, which could perpetuate the existing monopoly and slow the transition to competition and self-governance.
CORE's reaction, is based on a survey carried out among its 88 members drawn from five continents from February 2-9, 1998.
"Many CORE members throughout the world are concerned the proposed policy overlooks the international nature of the Internet," Alan Hanson, chairman of the executive committee of CORE, said in a press release. "The Green Paper appears to carve out a US-centric process designed to better serve the vested interests of Network Solutions (NSI) rather than the broader interests of the world Internet community." Members of CORE were however pleased that the Green Paper included many concepts from its generic Top Level Domain Memo of Understanding (gTLD-MoU).
CORE members also cited concerns about the potential for US micro-management of the process, without international input. In addition, CORE supports six of the seven points outlined in the paper, including:
- adding competition to domain name registration,
- establishing a mechanism for resolving conflict between trademark holders and domain name holders,
- recognizing the growing percentage of users outside the US,
- developing a system that is accountable to the Internet community,
- supporting the evolution of the Internet as a commercial medium.
CORE is currently incorporating ideas from the gTLD Memo of Understanding other organizations, the Green Paper and analysis from the Internet community into a single set of recommendations, which will be released as a draft for comment shortly.
gTLD-MoU policies are developed in cooperation with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), who manages the root of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) to promote "stability and robustness". IANA is the central coordinator for the assignment of unique parameter values for Internet protocols and acts as the clearinghouse to assign and coordinate the use of numerous Internet protocol parameters, such as Internet addresses, domain names, autonomous system numbers (used in some routing protocols), protocol numbers, port numbers, management information base object identifiers, including private enterprise numbers, and many others.
The common use of the Internet protocols by the Internet community requires that the particular values used in these parameter fields be assigned uniquely. It is the task of the IANA to make those unique assignments as requested and to maintain a registry of the currently assigned values.
URL: CORE http://www.gtld-mou.org
URL: Green Paper http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/dnsdrft.htm
URL: gTLD-MoU http://www.gtld-mou.org/gTLD-MoU.html
URL: IANA http://www.isi.edu/iana/
The conclusions of the European consultative meeting on "The future organisation and management of Internet naming and addressing", held in Brussels on the 7 July 1998, have been published.
The meeting, hosted by the European Commission (DG XIII), was attended by more than 140 participants representing the European private sector, Member State and non-EU Governments, international organisations, associations and service provider organisations.
The meeting was convened following the publication of the US Green Paper. The participants in the meeting in Brussels decided to participate in the international process and to represent the legitimate interests of European industry and users in all phases of the current reorganisation of the Internet. A full list of recommendations is published in the conclusions document.
A study from the University of Sussex considers the practicabilities of implementing a pan-European domain name registry and the new .EU top level domain (TLD) proposed by the European Commission. 13/10/00
The Filter, an e-zine from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School has published a complete multimedia archive of ICANN's March 8-10, 2000 public meeting in Cairo, Egypt. 14/03/00
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has joined in the creation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Protocol Support Organization. Other founding organisations include the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The purpose of the Protocol Support Organization (PSO) is to provide technical and architectural advice to ICANN on the management of the Domain Name System (DNS) and other core Internet facilities. In addition to this advisory role, the PSO will name three members of the ICANN Board of Directors.
If you are interested in developments in this area, ICANNWatch, is a web site designed to "monitor" and question decisions made by ICANN.
URL: W3C http://www.w3.org/
URL: ETSI http://www.etsi.org/
URL: IETF http://www.ietf.org
URL: ITU http://www.itu.int/
URL: ICANN Watch http://www.icannwatch.org
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has convened an international process to develop recommendations concerning the intellectual property issues associated with Internet domain names, including dispute resolution. The recommendations resulting from the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process will be made available to the new organisation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), that has been formed to manage the Internet Domain Name System. A current draft outline report is available on the web.
WIPO issued its final report on the Internet Domain Name Process in early May, 1999. The report is available on the web. There is a recent criticism of the WIPO proposals on the US-based Law News web site. Two stories discussing the US Justice Department's investigation into Network Solutions Inc's (NSI) ownership claim of the .com, .net, and .org domains have also been published.
URL: WIPO http://wipo2.wipo.int/
URL: Law News http://www.lawnewsnet.com/stories/A1121-1999May3.html
URL: DOJ NSI investigation http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/daily/may99/nsi5.htm
URL: DOJ NSI investigation http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,36116,00.html?dd.ne.htmldisp.hl.ne
The Filter (No. 2.2, dated 19/9/99), published by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, reports on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) open board meeting held in August 1999, in Santiago, Chile. The reports include records of charges made by the Berkman Center in claiming that ICANN has "overstepped its authority in a number of areas". Resources include audio, video, and text archives of the proceedings.
URL: Santiago meeting http://cyber.harvard.edu/icann/santiago/archive/
OECD papers on Information Computer Communications Policy are available online and include reports on a series of workshops on 'The Economics of the Information Society' held in 1996/7. The reports are all available in .pdf format.
OECD has been running the International Futures Programme for some years. The programme publishes regular reports on trends in society. A report "The Internet in 20 years: cyberspace, the next frontier" is available on the web, and ties together several recent publications. The reports are available on a CD-ROM that can be ordered from OECD but are not very up-to-date.
URL: OECD papers http://www.oecd.org/dsti/gd_docs/gdlist_e.html
URL: International Futures Programme http://www.oecd.org/sge/au/index.htm
URL: The Internet in 20 years http://www.oecd.org/sge/au/highligh.htm
The Information Society Initiative (ISI) is a programme by the UK government aiming to encourage UK businesses to adopt information and communications technologies. Many of the activities focus on the perceived needs of SMEs and include publication of a number of on-line "User Guides".
In addition there some benchmarking research: "to establish a systematic assessment of the levels of ownership, usage and understanding of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by companies of all sizes and sectors in a number of countries". Countries covered by the research include: Australia, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, USA.
The UK GEMISIS project (Government, Education, Medical, Industrial and Social Information Superhighway) is a collaboration between the University of Salford, Cable and Wireless Communications, the City of Salford, the City of Manchester and Manchester Training and Enterprise Council. The project aims "to develop user driven applications that exploit the sociological, economic and technological benefits of the Information Superhighway in order to assist in the regeneration of the North West of England". The project will provide a network infrastructure which combines a high bandwidth ATM core, high capacity multimedia servers, video conferencing systems and a variety of customer access options.
A web-based service from the European Commission provides a gateway to information on business in the Single European Market. The service provides an entry for finding out about funding possibilities from sources such as the research and technological development programmes and more general financing schemes such as those for SMEs organised by the European Investment Bank.
The European Commission DGXIII/B 1998 status report: "Towards a Sustainable Information Society" focuses on the challenges presented by research activities, their political impact and social implications. The report includes a factual compilation of achievements and information from RTD projects and is intended to further the policy debate.
The final report from the Information Society Technologies (IST) Conference, held in late November 1999, is available to download from the web. The report summarises the main conclusions drawn from the conference and also provides comment from independent conference rapporteurs. 18/04/00
The FAIR project has published a report entitled: "Constructing the European Information Society", comprising a series of executive summaries based on the results of 50 working papers covering: competition, employment, growth, regional and societal impacts. Working papers are available on the web, whilst paper copies of the report are available from the European Commission, DG XIII-B1.
URL: working papers http://www.databank.it/dbc/fair
URL: order report mailto:email@example.com
Euroabstracts is published six times a year (a web site is also available) by the European Commission's Innovation programme. It provides summaries of a wide range of publications and reports (available as printed and/or online versions) which would be of interest to readers of El.pub. A couple of examples of publications available online from the most recent issue include:
- A report entitled: "Gazelles and Gophers: SME Recommendations for Successful Internet Business", which provides models of profitability and competition and identifies 11 critical success factors for e-commerce. The report is available for free download.
- A working paper, "Building the knowledge-based economy in countries in transition: from concepts to policies", which considers the policies required to build knowledge-based economies.
An electronic subscription form for Euroabstracts is available from the web site. 05/05/00
A report for the Irish government has outlined a strategy for Ireland to adopt in the developing digital economy. Suggested measures include: the acceleration of telecommunications competition; promotion of Internet access and connectivity; the facilitation of e-commerce; and the development of human resources.
The French Government plan to establish France as a major actor in the Information Society by concentrating on two priorities: Internet and electronic commerce. The initial focus will be on the education and administrative sectors in order to facilitate "the creation of a culture of the Internet", with support also for start-up companies whose activities are focused on electronic commerce in order to stimulate the economy.
This policy is based on the principles outlined in the "Lorentz Report" on the electronic commerce. Additional information on French Government policy on the Information Society including electronic commerce can also be found at this site.
The latest results of the European Commission's measurement of public opinion towards Information Society applications has been published on the web. The site covers a number of topics including the reasons why users are prepared to buy particular kinds of technology. The survey entitled: "Measuring the Information Society 1998" is a response to the demand for quantitative data on the development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Europe.
The FAIR project provides Europe-wide analysis of the socio-economic impact of the Information Society. Working papers examine issues such as: employment and new job creation, consumer aspects and sustainable development in the Information society.
In a speech to the Europe-Mediterranean (Euro-Med Net '98) conference in Cyprus, March 4 - 7, 1998 Horace Mitchell, Programme Director for European Telework Development, illustrated the wide differences across Europe in adoption of the new technologies and techniques required by a networked economy.
"This year, nearly 9 million households in Germany will have a PC and almost one in three of those will have Internet access. By 2000, there will be more than 6 million German households connected to the Internet, with comparable proportions in the UK, and higher proportions in the Netherlands and in Scandinavia. Compare this with Spain, where by 2000 only half a million households will be connected. In Greece and Portugal we expect the proportion connected to be even lower."
Mitchell quotes from tables released in the 1998 EITO report. The main causes for these discrepancies are, according to European Telework Development, lower average household incomes, coupled with the same or higher prices for computers. "Given variances in per capita GDP in Greece and Germany", says Mitchell, "a PC priced at the same level would look more than three times more expensive in Greece than in Germany. However, the pattern of living and spending also affects the "perceived cost" and "perceived value" of high cost consumer items, making the relative perceived cost of a PC in Greece perhaps five or even six times that in Germany."
Effectively, the privately owned PC and Internet are rare luxuries in some countries, while rapidly becoming everyday items in others. This all means the Information Society looks quite different when seen from different countries. In most countries of Northern Europe people are starting to use the technologies in sufficient numbers to have an economic impact, and local companies are beginning to see and pursue the opportunities, although most European countries are a very long way behind the US, which dominates this field. But in European countries with lower GDP (and all the new countries applying for membership of the EU) the Information Society phenomenon is a very long way from getting to critical mass.
A copy of the full text of the paper is published on the ETO web site along with excerpts from the 1998 EITO report.
URL: Euro-Med Net '98 http://www.euromednet.ucy.ac.cy
A Green Paper dealing with the convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology (IT) sectors and its implications for regulation, has been published by the European Commission. The paper served as the basis for a public consultation process to ascertain the likely extent and speed of change, the barriers to convergence and the objectives of standardisation. The full Green Paper along with an Executive Summary are available.
The UK's Telecommunications watchdog, OFTEL has a section on its website devoted to media convergence: "regulating a communications world in which the boundaries between IT, telecoms and broadcasting are fast breaking down". OFTEL is contributing to the development of UK policy in this area, publishing a number of consultative documents on:
- digital television and its provision,
- the Internet and education,
- Information Society and public access
- audio-visual communications and the regulation of broadcasting
A summary document of the challenges posed by convergence: "Beyond The Telephone, The Television and The PC - II" has also been published.
URL: summary document http://www.oftel.gov.uk/broadcast/betel198.htm
The US FCC Office of Plans and Policy (OPP) have analysed the implications of the Internet for the FCC and telecommunications policy in a report entitled: "Digital Tornado: the Internet and Telecommunications Policy". Although based on US-experience and regulation, the report provides a comprehensive assessment of the questions the Internet poses for traditional communications policy. The paper advises Government policy should be based on two premises:
- avoid unnecessary regulation,
- question the applicability of traditional rules.
The paper addresses three primary areas of concern:
- Categorisation difficulties, policy and legal questions - as Internet-based services do not fit easily into the existing classifications
- Pricing and usage policy - questions arising from the economics of Internet access
- Availability of bandwidth - regulatory and technical issues affecting the requirement for "universal service".
URL: PDF download http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/OPP/working_papers/oppwp29pdf.html
URL: WordPerfect download http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/OPP/working_papers/oppwp29.wp
The section on "electronic commerce" in the published proceedings from the EU Ministerial Conference: "Global Information Networks" states that: "There is no need to introduce new taxes, such as a bit tax". Further, that taxation policies towards e-commerce should:
- Ensure that existing taxes are evenly applied to electronic and non-electronic transactions
- Avoid discriminatory taxes on electronic transactions
- Pursue current activities in international fora such as the OECD
In addition a European Initiative in Electronic Commerce explained in the Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - COM(97)157 - is available.
URL: COM(97)157 http://www.cordis.lu/esprit/src/ecomcom.htm
There seems to be little international consensus on the issue of taxation relating to electronic commerce on the Internet, both on the goods and services provided and the transactions themselves. Progress concerning taxes relating to the goods or services, such as the imposition of sales and value added tax, its rate, and in which country it should be applied remains very slow.
Proposals based on the concept of a "bit tax" - where a levy is imposed on service providers and users according to the amount of data transferred seem to be receding as they have been rejected by both European and US administrations.
The Clinton administration published some initial proposals, but these relate purely to the Internet and not electronic transactions generally. The statement also covers the wish by the US for a: "tariff free environment", which some observers believe is an attempt to stop other countries adding taxes to US exports of software and content, delivered over the Internet.
"A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce" which includes the tax proposals is also available on the web.
There is more on the Information society topic page.
The Australian Taxation Office has called for international cooperation to deal with possible tax evasion and accidental non-compliance on the Internet.
Forecasting the Application of Multimedia and its Environment to the year 2010 and beyond (FAME 2010 ) - a number of studies concerned with the future of multimedia have been published as part of this DG XII project, carried out under the Science and Technology Research Policy Initiative.
The study will forecast the technical developments intrinsic to multimedia, then go on to assess the impacts of these across a broad range of social, economic and political fields. A key aim is to identify areas of research to promote ways for policy makers to optimise social and economic returns from the development and use of multimedia technologies.
Included in the broad aims is a section on forecasting the development of key technologies required in multimedia systems, such as those required in:
- the human computer interface;
- data management, retrieval, compression and encryption;
- physical enabling technologies of storage, acquisition, data processing, data exchange, portability and miniaturisation;
- and production technologies such as authoring tools, and multimedia 'process' engineering.
In addition: "the socio-psychological aspects of multimedia will be covered including usability, affordability and availability - with particular emphasis being given to the development or emergence of standards".
There is an index to the Edinburgh FAME outputs which includes reports in .pdf format covering the themes: home, community workplace and economy in the areas of education, entertainment, shopping and retailing.
"The Internet's Coming of Age" is a report which provides an analysis of the Internet's infrastructure, how it has developed, and the challenges faced by its developers and those who attempt to regulate its use. The entire report is available for viewing on the web. 24/10/00
The Global Internet Project (GIP), an international group of senior executives committed to spurring the growth of the Internet worldwide, released a report that has identified bottlenecks in four key technology sectors, which have the potential to impede the continued rapid growth of the Internet.
The report entitled: "Internet Foundations: Breaking Technology Bottlenecks" identified bottlenecks in the following sectors: end-user hardware and software; high-speed Internet access; backbone networks and server capabilities.
A related report entitled: "The Opportunity and the Challenge to Sustain Rapid Internet Growth: A Policy Architecture for the Internet", asserts that the GIP introduces what it calls: "a blueprint for Internet issues management". This policy architecture identifies six building blocks which it states as fundamental to managing Internet growth. In this, the first of a series of white papers, the group revealed an umbrella architecture which provides a framework for industry, educational institutions, governments, and other organizations to address key Internet-related issues. Further white papers are expected to be published which will develop the general themes.
URL: GIP http://www.gip.org
URL: "Internet Foundations" http://www.gip.org/gip10.htm
URL: "Policy Architecture for the Internet" http://www.gip.org/gip11.htm
A very sound definition of the evolving US national information infrastructure (NII) is given in a paper entitled: "The unpredictable certainty: information infrastructure through 2000". The discussion document seeks to characterise the technology deployment, market expectations, and proposed activities of communications and information facilities and service providers over the next 5 to 7 years.
Given that future plans are marked by diversity of vision and action, the steering committee for the NII 2000 project defined the NII broadly as: "the collection of all public and private information services both facilities - and content-based operating as a complex, dynamic system".
It exists today but is and always will be in a state of flux. The paper provides some very useful background on:
- Driving deployment: business transitions, business models
- tenets of the Information Society
- the significance of the Internet as a: barometer of potential; laboratory for development of workable standards; basis for critical flexibility; vehicle for new market structures
- realizing the NII's potential the user perspective
- deployment of infrastructure technology: access; flexibility and interoperability; user interaction with networked infrastructure
- public versus private objectives
The US government publish documents concerned with the emergence of the "Digital Economy". In the first report the government outline their belief that huge developments in the IT industry, driven by the growth of the Internet, are a major contributory factor to the recent boom in the US economy. The report, charts the emergence of the Digital Age and gives recommendations on how the private sector, in accordance with the government, should foster the evolution of the digital economy.
The second report in the series, entitled: "The Emerging Digital Economy II"concludes that e-commerce is: "fundamentally altering the way Americans produce, consume, communicate, and play"; and whilst its growth is outpacing the projections made in 1998, e-commerce's share of the retail portion of the economy, "remains quite small - at less than 1 percent". The report also claims that the IT-producing industries (ie. producers of computer and communications hardware, software, and services) are showing dynamic growth, concluding that by 2006, almost half of the US workforce will be employed by industries that are either major producers or intensive users of information technology products and services.
The department has found, however, that the pervasiveness of information technology, the variety of its benefits to producers and consumers, and the speed of economic change in the digital era have tested the limits of established indices of economic performance. "Federal statistical agencies have taken steps to improve data collection and analysis, but much remains to be done". The full report is available for download from the web site.
The Third Annual Report of the US Government's Electronic Commerce Working Group is available for download. This third annual report on the information-technology revolution and its impact on the economy, concludes that: "electronic commerce and information technology (IT) industries are growing and changing the economy at breathtaking speed, fundamentally altering the way Americans produce, consume, communicate, and play".
The first two reports were called "The Emerging Digital Economy", but after just 26 months, the working group have dropped the word "Emerging" because they feel that: "it's [the digital economy] here, in fact, it has become the driving force of the American Economy." 13/06/00
URL: pdf download http://www.esa.doc.gov/de2000.pdf
URL: press release http://www.ecommerce.gov/ecomnews/pr060500.html
The E-conomy Project is a collaborative effort hosted by the University of California, Berkeley (BRIE). The project's goal is to create an institutional resource involving industry leaders, policy-makers and academics in research and discussion. The effort is aimed at conceiving new business models and more effective corporate strategies while creating a forum for "best policy" debates.
An organised series of domestic and international discussions among industry, policy and academic participants has already begun. The project's first major conference, "The Digital Economy in International Perspective", was held in May 1999 in Washington, DC. The site includes copies of the papers and presentations and an analytical summary and report.
URL: home page http://e-conomy.berkeley.edu/
URL: conference http://e-conomy.berkeley.edu/events/
A report by the US Information Technology Advisory Committee, a panel of experts that advise the US President, concludes that Federal research on information technology is seriously inadequate. The report urges the government to increase spending on IT research by US1.4 billion, focussing on longer-term "visionary and high risk" projects that industry is unwilling to support itself. Copies of the 80 page report are available from the National Coordination Office for Computing, Information and Communications (NCO/CIC).
The NCO/CIC site provides information about multiagency Federal information technology (IT) research and development (R&D), initiatives including:
- Next Generation Internet (NGI);
- Information Technology for the Twenty-First Century (IT2);
- President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), by whom the report above was written.
The recent G8 summit in Okinawa considered a paper the Japanese government had requested from the World Economic Forum on the Global Digital Divide. The summit issued a charter on the Global Information Society that the G8 nations intend to support, the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society. 22/08/00
URL: http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Projects/FromTheGDDivideToTheGDOpportunity.pdf WEF paper
URL: http://www.weforum.org/pressreleases.nsf/PRDocuments/FromtheGlobalDigitalDividetothe GlobalDigitalOpportunity WEF press release
URL: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/g7/summit/2000okinawa/gis.htm charter document
The emerging digital economy will have its problems as demonstrated by the reports: "Falling Through the Net", carried out in the US which measure telephone, computer and Internet usage by US citizens. The reports have found that the "digital divide" - between citizens with access to the emerging Information Society and those who do not, is growing wider during the period between successive reports.
The third report in the series, "Falling Through the Net - the Digital Divide", published by the US Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) shows that the gap widened since the second survey. This latest report, and the previous two reports, can be viewed on the web or downloaded in .pdf format.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a report which claims that 57% of those without Internet access say they do not plan to log on. The report is based on phone surveys, and among its major findings are that Internet access or non-access is often a function of age: those who are young tend to be online or eager to go online; those who are older tend not to be online and tend not to be interested in going online.
There is a wealth of material based on the survey available on the web, though conclusions drawn are obviously biased towards the situation in the US. 10/10/00
The US-funded Next Generation Internet (NGI) Initiative, is based upon research and development programmes across US Federal agencies. Published on the site are the "NGI Concept Paper", the "NGI Implementation Plan", and a report: "Research Challenges for the Next Generation Internet" (in pdf format), which summarises the findings of a workshop held in May 12-14 1997.
URL: NGI http://www.ngi.gov
URL: Concept Paper http://www.ccic.gov/ngi/concept-Jul97/
URL: Implementation Plan http://www.ccic.gov/ngi/implementation-Jul97/
URL: Research Challenges http://www.cra.org/Policy/NGI/research_chall.pdf
In an announcement that brings into focus the investment that the US is putting behind the development of new Internet technologies, GST Telecommunications in conjunction with the National Transparent Optical Network (NTON) Consortium, will provide the West Coast network backbone of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) SuperNet Program. The work is being led by the US Department of Defense's, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
GST, along with members of the NTON Consortium (which includes Nortel Networks, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and Sprint Communications), is responsible for managing a research and development platform for developing and showcasing high bandwidth applications and field-testing emerging technologies, including new optical devices, new protocols, and new management paradigms. The West Coast network will span from Seattle to San Diego. Potential participants in the project include Boeing, Jet Propulsion Laboratories, and the San Diego Supercomputing Center. Researchers will be able to test advanced applications over the NGI at speeds up to 1,000 times faster than those generally available today.
URL: GST http://www.gstcorp.com
URL: DARPA http://www.darpa.mil
URL: NGI http://www.ngi.gov/
URL: SuperNet http://ale.east.isi.edu/NGI-S/
International media analysts, Screen Digest, in partnership with Internet research company Van Dusseldorp & Partners, have published a report that examines the full potential of broadband Internet access and what it will mean for the European market. The report shows current figures for cable modem and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) penetration of European households at 1.79% - up three times on 1999's figure of 0.48%.
The report projects that by 2003, penetration will stand at over 21% - with over 18 million subscribers - up more than 44 times on 1999. The report, "Broadband Landscape Europe: Market Assessment and Forecast to 2003", will be available in January 2001 priced at UK pounds 895. 22/12/00
URL: Screen Digest http://www.screendigest.com/
URL: Van Dusseldorp & Partners http://www.vandusseldorp.com/
The US Internet2 project is a partnership among US federal research agencies, commercial organisations and prominent universities (under the auspices of University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development - UCAID) which aims: "to build next-generation computer networks that support advanced interactive education and research applications in areas such as digital libraries and telemedicine".
"Internet2 will provide a solid model for building a new network infrastructure that converges voice, video and data communications on a single network and supports applications not yet imagined".
Internet2's mission statement states that it's research addresses the major challenges facing the next generation of networks by:
- creating and sustaining a leading edge network capability for the national (US) research community;
- directing network development of new generation applications which fully exploit the capabilities of broadband networks such as media integration, interactivity, real time collaboration;
- setting new priorities within higher education for support of national research objectives in distance education and lifelong learning;
- integrating the work of Internet2 with ongoing efforts to improve production Internet services, through the transfer of new network services and applications to all levels of educational use and to the broader Internet community, both nationally and internationally.
The University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), a partnership of over 125 major research universities, which established the Internet2 project also supports the Abilene Project. The Abilene Project plans to develop an advanced backbone network to connect regional network aggregation points, called gigaPoPs, being developed by UCAID members.
URL: Internet2 http://www.internet2.edu
URL: Abilene Project http://www.ucaid.edu/
The Computing Research Association's electronic bulletin provides information of interest to "computing researchers". Two news items from the CRA Bulletin of May 24, 2000:
Details of the Internet2 Consortium's, call for expressions of interest for the Internet2 Network Research Workshop, scheduled for Chicago, June 28-29, 2000. The meeting is planned to bring together, "researchers from the Computer Science community along with Internet2 leaders to explore ways in which Internet2 can facilitate and provide opportunity for research initiatives".
Standards for the digital economy
A news item that reports that The Science and Technology Policy Institute at RAND has released "Scaffolding the New Web: Standards and Standards Policy for the Digital Economy". The paper considers the pressure for standards to ensure the long term viability of the digital economy; whether today's standards processes adequate government; and whether government intervention is required to address systemic failures in their development.
Subscribe to the email bulletin and view previous issues on the CRA website. 31/05/00
"The European Commission has agreed to sign an 80 million euro contract with the GÉANT Consortium, to put in place a 2.5Gbit/s trans-European Internet backbone for research purposes". Commentators believe that the move signals the start of European investment in the next generation Internet II.
The first Joint Internet2/US Department of Energy QoS Workshop was held in Houston, Texas during February 2000 to discuss the development and deployment of new Internet quality of service (QoS) technologies. Members of the Internet2 project have focused on implementing and testing QoS strategies based on the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) differentiated services architecture (DiffServ) to engineer scalable interdomain QoS services in support of advanced network applications.
The workshop aimed take stock of the progress that has been made towards realising Internet2 QoS goals, characterise the challenges that lay ahead, and increase understanding of how recent QoS research and standards work might be leveraged to accelerate the development of production QoS services throughout Internet2 networks and emerging next generation Internet (NGI) infrastructure. The proceedings from the meeting are available online. 11/02/00
URL: workshop http://www.internet2.edu/qos/houston2000/
URL: online proceedings http://www.internet2.edu/qos/houston2000/proceedings/
URL: Internet2 http://www.internet2.edu/
The Internet2 Sociotechnical Summit held in the USA, during August 1999, had the mission statement: "to lay the foundation for understanding the social and organisational implications of tomorrow's high-performance Internet". An online discussion, featuring white papers and interaction with Internet2 Sociotechnical Summit presenters is open to the public. Complete proceedings of the Internet2 Sociotechnical Summit will be presented at the Internet2 Members Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA during October 1999.
URL: online discussion http://www.utexas.edu/coc/i2soctech/
TERENA, the association of European research networking organisations, has signed a cooperation agreement with the Internet2 project. Karel Vietsch, Secretary General of TERENA commented: "The Internet2 project has a major impact on the development of research networking worldwide. Through this agreement research networking organisations in and around Europe will be able to contribute their share to these exciting activities." The Internet2 project is starting to publish papers and proceedings on next generation applications. Recent additions are proceedings of First Internet2 Joint Applications/Engineering QoS Workshop (may 1998), which includes a paper on Tele-immersion (seen as an important application for Internet2) as the ultimate QoS critical application. The TERENA site includes details of TERENA project funding and call for proposals.
URL: Terena http://www.terena.org/
The Internet2 Middleware Initiative has been launched to accelerate the development of advanced network applications. Technology donated by a number of the Internet2 corporate sponsors, will be used by the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) to develop and deploy a "national, higher education video network service" (the Internet2 Digital Video Network). The Middleware Initiative will define a suite of enhanced network services to take advantage of the Internet2 architecture, these include: digital audio and video frameworks, storage systems, security, network quality of service, multicast, directories.
A Norwegian experimental Internet2 network is being used by Norwegian researchers to develop technologies for the next generation Internet, at the same time providing connection to the experimental Internet2 network in the US and elsewhere.
Research will centre on experiments with next generation Internet applications (with an emphasis on multimedia, resource reservation and mobility) and network protocols. Examples of applications for Windows NT 4.0/5.0 and Sun Solaris platforms include: MBone tools like VIC (Video Conference) and VAT (Visual Audio Tool), RAT (robust audio tool), mobile IPv6, DOVRE (Distributed Object-oriented Virtual Reality Environment), video for Windows, Amaya (W3C's own test-bed browser/authoring tool). It is planned to port developed applications to other operating such as Linux and FreeBSD.
QBone is an Internet2 initiative to provide support for advanced Internet applications such as voice, video, and tele-immersion with end-to-end quality of service (QoS) technology. QBone participants will work together to build an international network testbed to develop and deploy emerging QoS technologies. In contrast to today's best efforts Internet, QoS technologies provide guaranteed levels of performance, despite network congestion. Initial QBone participants include 13 US-based advanced networking research organisations.
URL: QBone http://www.internet2.edu/qbone/
An interesting paper which proposes the creation, in the US, of a Gigabit National Data Grid with fiber-to-the-home is published on the web. Evaluating the very high bandwidth possibilities in the future, the paper provides the rationale, cost models, revenue models, and action items in support of the proposal. It also includes useful links to resources and supplementary materials to back its main contentions.
The report concludes that: "unless there is a significant flaw in the cost and revenue models, it appears likely that a gigabit-to-the-home service will emerge in the near future".
The FCC's plan to convert US households to digital television by 2006 is on the verge of collapsing, according to a new report by consultants, Strategy Analytics, Inc. The report "Interactive and Digital Television: Issues in the Transition Phase" suggests that terrestrial broadcasters in the US can use their digital (DTV) capacity for either HDTV (High Definition TV) or SDTV (Standard Definition TV). There is currently debate over whether the industry should change technical specifications of the ATSC standard.
However, the Strategy Analytics report suggests that there is still no proven business model for either HDTV or SDTV, whichever technical standard is adopted. It claims that: "HDTV receivers will always be too expensive for mass market adoption; and that the SDTV option is under threat from satellite and cable operators, which are rapidly converting their customer base to superior digital services".
The analysts conclude that, over the coming decade, terrestrial broadcasting in the US will continue to lose share to cable and satellite, and eventually to Internet-based online video distribution. The report also highlights the difficulties associated with providing digital services to multi-device households. More than a quarter of US households own three or more TV receivers, most of which rely on over-the-air NTSC. Every set must be capable of receiving digital signals before analogue broadcasting can be switched off.
Strategy Analytics predicts that less than 5 percent of US households will be watching over-the-air DTV by 2005. They also believe that terrestrial broadcasters are expected to use their digital capacity increasingly for data services.
A report by interactive media consulting group Digiscope, has highlighted the rapid expansion of a new digital-based market of "convergent consumers" in Europe over the next five years. By 2005, projections suggest there will be nearly 70 million "convergent consumers" in Europe, using: digital TV, mobile/wireless and the Internet. This figure does not take into account those users that are projected to use one or two of these technologies. The report, "Digital TV, Internet & Mobile Convergence", due to be published by Phillips Global Media in December costs UK pounds 995. 01/12/00
The UK-based InterForum has been formed to raise awareness amongst UK business as to the opportunities and challenges presented by new information and communications technologies. The forum is sponsored by suppliers and users of information and communications technologies. 03/07/00
The Center for the Study of Technology and Society in the US runs a web site which concentrates on how technology is affecting society. Major topic areas include: biotechnology, culture, e-commerce, information privacy, national security, education, equity, the arts and innovation. Sign-up on the site for a brief weekly message that keeps readers informed of updates to the site. 23/06/00
URL: subscription page: http://www.tecsoc.org/subscribe.htm
The developers of MediaChannel.org, claim that it is "the first web portal dedicated to global media issues". The site intends to become a leading resource for analysis and information about the media, exploring areas such as freedom of expression, citizen access to media, trends in media ownership, media arts, and the intersection of media and politics. 11/02/00
During November 1999, US research company, International Data Corporation (IDC) released results from Project Atlas, which it claims is "the world's largest Web survey". The survey provides insights into the many differences there are on an individual, country, and regional basis.
"While Project Atlas confirms IDC's market analysis, what was unexpected were the differences between individual countries. For example, a higher percentage of respondents access the Internet from schools in Mexico than in Japan, a country renowned for its advanced education," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC.
Project Atlas was conducted in 13 major languages in cooperation with some of the web's top portals. For additional information on purchasing the report or to receive a complimentary copy of a Project Atlas research brief, "Advanced Web Users Around the World", visit the IDC web site.
- IEEE Computer Society magazine IT Professional has the result of scenario building by the digerati. "After the IT Revolution: Four Scenarios", which considers US views of the future of the Internet, can be found on the magazine web site.
- A not-for profit Research Unit, based on the Internet invites interested parties to browse the site, and to join the Unit. From the site's home page: "The Unit for Internet Studies is dedicated to the (theoretical) analysis of the Internet and its implications for international relations. This site is designed with the principal aim of collating research and researchers in this domain, to generate debate and to provide a lively platform for the mutual exchange of ideas."
- Cybersociology Magazine is a forum for the discussion of the social-scientific study of cyberspace. Every few months, this e-zine will strive to publish at least two original articles dealing with cyberspace, the Internet, and online communities. Each issue will also contain book and site reviews. One of the sites reviewed is the "How we want to live tomorrow" project at the University of Munich and its related portal on global digitisation.
URL: project http://www.hoechst-forum.uni-muenchen.de/index.html
URL: digital portal http://www.hoechst-forum.uni-muenchen.de/digital/
- A Spanish e-zine on the development of the information society, jointly sponsored by IBM and El Pais.
- First Monday is a peer-reviewed e-journal about the Internet. Coverage of the articles is both wide and varied, although they tend to be biased towards the Internet from a social, rather than, a technical perspective.
- A cross-industry working team from about 40 companies in the US has been working on scenarios and the implied requirements from the infrastructure. The papers including "Vision of the NII: Ten Scenarios" are available on the web.
URL: cross-industry working team http://www.cnri.reston.va.us:3000/XIWT/public.html
URL: papers http://www.xiwt.org/documents/documents.html
URL: "Vision of the NII: Ten Scenarios" http://www.cnri.reston.va.us:3000/XIWT/documents/Scenarios/ScenTOC2.html
- The European Union has set up the Information Society Project Office (ISPO) to coordinate European level discussion about the development of the Global Information Infrastructure and its impact on society.
- ISPO publishes the Information Society Trends electronic newsletter "IS Trends" which is available electronically and includes summaries and comment based on market information from Europe and Worldwide, under the headings: Market and Companies, Legislation and Policies, Infrastructure.
- The European Survey of the Information Society (ESIS) launched by ISPO in February 1997 publishes reports
- A report entitled: "The Global Information Economy: The Way Ahead" has been published by the Information Industries Taskforce for the Australian government.
- "The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT)" contains refereed articles, commentaries, information papers and book reviews on a wide spectrum of subjects relating to information society futures, regulation and technology. Sample paper titles include: "Copyright Liability of Communications Carriers", "Europe's emergent policy on Media Concentrations", "The European Digital Convergence"
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