submission to the Executive Committee on
themes for the WSIS
Australian Government welcomes the opportunity to contribute comment on
possible themes for the World Summit on the Information Society.
United Nations General Assembly resolution 56/183 the Australian
Government notes that the thematic focus of the World Summit on the
Information Society should address the whole range of relevant issues
related to the information society. To
this end, the Australian Government requests consideration, for thematic
purposes, of the following four key aspects of the information society:
- Cross border electronic commerce
- The application of intellectual property rules
- Standardisation of electronic security
- Ensuring the free-flow of information
Cross Border Electronic Commerce
border electronic commerce is transforming what it means to do business
today. It has enormous
potential to create business efficiencies and boost economic growth.
This is important for trade facilitation, as it can reduce
transaction costs of cross-border trade, and improve access to trade
information, thereby making markets more open.
order to realise the potential of cross border e-commerce, work needs to
be done to simplify, reduce, harmonise or eliminate regulatory,
administrative and other impediments to trade in a diverse range of areas
including standards, customs processes, and investments
Summit should lend impetus to work currently being undertaken in various
international fora to encourage the application of information technology
and to support sustainable investment in electronic commerce. For example,
in the Asia-Pacific region APEC promotes the collaboration needed for
effective cross-border transactions through sharing information and
experience on e-security, critical information protection, legal and
regulatory matters, paperless trading, interoperability and e-government,
which together provide the essential prerequisites for effective cross
border electronic commerce.
The application of intellectual property rules
legislation governs the way in which content can be commercially exploited
and accessed over the Internet. It
is, therefore, desirable to encourage balanced copyright regimes which
encourage creativity, investment and innovation in the development of new
content as well as promoting reasonable online access to research,
cultural and educational materials.
Standardisation of electronic security
With the growth and use
of Internet technologies it has become a necessity for economies to
protect their information infrastructures from attack. Attacks on computer
networks present diverse characteristics and new trends. The
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/63 "Combating the
Criminal Misuse of Information Technology" is a global resolution
designed to assist all economies to realise the importance of computer and
electronic security. Many
countries economies are working towards improving their e-security
infrastructures and complying with the principles contained in the UNGA
The Summit can encourage
broader global engagement in international collaboration on these issues,
based upon work already underway in international for a. As an example,
the OECD Working Party on Information Security and Privacy is currently
revising the OECD’s 1992 Security Guidelines.
It is expected the revised Guidelines will be available in 2003 and
will offer governments, industry and consumers a new approach based on
building a “culture of security”
across member countries.
At a regional level, the
APEC TEL E-Security Task Group shares information between the more
developed and less developed APEC members on an agenda that includes
critical infrastructure protection and the enabling of electronic
transactions through the use and deployment of authentication
technologies. Such processes could be broadened and deepened with the
high-level commitment of the Summit participants.
Importance of the free flow of information
growth of the Internet raises questions about the balance between a
completely unregulated flow of information, and restrictions in the
interest of other societal objectives.
Knowledge based economies thrive where there is openness and
unimpeded access to new ideas and technologies, but some content on the
Internet can be damaging to particular groups, for example children. Each
economy faces the challenge of ensuring restrictions on harmful content
are not detrimental to reasonable access to digital information.
Some economies face difficulty
gaining access to information from the Internet because a substantial
percentage of that content is in the English language. While content in
Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish is growing rapidly, developing local
content is essential to take full advantage of this medium as a way for
all languages and cultures to communicate.