UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Panel 1 Overview: Policy
To date, the debate in the United States on the construction of information infrastructure has been largely focused on purely domestic strategies and policies, with little real attention paid to global issues and the diverse interests of other countries. The Clinton Administration's "vision statement," the position papers from corporate lobbying groups such as the Council for Competitiveness and from public interest groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the raging debates on policy-oriented Internet discussion lists have all tended to treat the global dimensions of information infrastructure as an afterthought, if at all. This parochialism in communication policy is a long-standing tradition in the United States, but is especially inappropriate in the current context of economic globalization and the progressive integration of national networks. The Clinton Administration has often argued that national and international economic policy matters are increasingly inseparable, but does not appear to have thought through what this general position means in the realm of electronic communication and information. The result has been something of a policy void, with the United States continuing to pursue approaches conceived prior to the advent of the revolution in advanced networking and distributed information processes.
This policy of benign neglect leaves a number of pressing issues unaddressed. For example, should we rely exclusively on international corporate alliances to cut deals promoting global information infrastructure, and how well would this approach address the often-mentioned priorities of open platform standards and operating procedures, reasonably priced services and universal access, personal privacy and so on? If, alternatively, a more orderly and broadly participatory approach is desired to advance these principles, which mechanisms and tactics are best suited to the task? Should we rely on non-governmental bodies like the Internet Society to lead the way, or should intergovernmental cooperation be reinvigorated and redirected to pursue the new agenda? What, if any, constructive roles can be played by bilateral consultations, plurilateral organizations like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or multilateral bodies like the International Telecommunication Union and the new World Trade Organization? Are these existing institutions up to the task, or should new and more open bodies for global public and private sector coordination be created?
Global International Networks - William Drake
Efforts to construct any sort of broadband GII on a multilateral basis are not high on the agendas of either the USG or the private sector. Instead, the USG's and private sector's likely focus would be on selective market access deals, primarily with Asia (in the context of APT, APEC and bilaterals) and the EU. There is no desire in either USG or US-based TNCs to address the key issues in multilateral fora like the ITU, since they strongly dislike the possibility of getting "sidetracked" by issues of third world development or trying to work out standards with European PTOs therein. If there is eventually to be any real multilateral efforts, they would concentrate narrowly on trade issues, e.g. in the WTO, and would not get into the larger nexus of social policy, national sovereignty and related difficult issues which the USG and TNCs have always disdained.
Since the major players on this side are not and will not be committed to such cooperation the "broadband GII" we are likely to get in the foreseeable future, will consist of a patchwork of disparate national and regional programs concentrated in the industrialized world, with the third world left out. However, the sort of cooperation taking place in non-traditional fora like the Internet Society is a bright spot, but of course the Internet is but one piece of advanced information infrastructure.
Transnational Corporations and Networks - Herbert Schiller
How should communications be used for Third World Development, and what is international communications? The notion of common folk using telephonic communication is idealistic but not realistic. It is possible to make the connections, but who is the global network? The structure, objectives, and policy remain even if one separates out the constituents.
There are many rivalries and competitions in the transitional corporate system with many US corporations are ahead of most nations.
We need to figure out where the decisions are being made.
From: "Arthur R. McGee"
---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 27 Jul 94 17:25:04 PDT From: Doug Schuler Subject: Policy for the Global Information Infrastructure From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gillian Cable-Murphy) To: email@example.com Subject: DIAC NOTES
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