EPIC: Ottowa OECD Conf. Report
Wed, 14 Oct 1998 10:27:30 +1000
>From EPIC Alert 5.14, October 13, 1998
 GILC Convenes Policy Conference in Ottawa
The Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) sponsored a conference on
"The Public Voice in the Development of Internet Policy" in Ottawa,
Canada on October 7. More than 140 people from a dozen different
countries attended the day-long symposium. The conference occurred
just prior to an OECD Ministerial conference on electronic commerce.
John Manley, the Canadian Minister of Industry and chair of the OECD
conference on Electronic Commerce, opened the Public Voice conference
and thanked GILC for bringing together NGOs. Mr. Manley stated that
the GILC conference presented an excellent opportunity to bring diverse
public interest groups together in a structured forum to discuss the
development of global policy for electronic commerce.
According to Mr. Manley, the GILC concerns have been heard by the OECD
ministers and there is a link between the two conferences and the OECD
conference should benefit from a diversity of voices regardless of
frontiers. In his conclusion Mr. Manley emphasized the importance of a
"global village," and showed his desire to have a "cyber marketplace"
which is available to wealthy and poor. "We gather from many countries
to develop e-commerce in the global village. Our challenge is much
broader today. Access to the Internet should be available to all and
at a stage where half of the world population did not make a telephone
call, this remains a very important challenge for consumers and
Mr. Manley was followed by David Johnston, the former Chair of the
Canadian Information Highway Advisory Council and former Provost of
McGill University. According to Mr. Johnston, "we need to establish an
environment where innovation can thrive, which recognizes that ideas
and innovation are keys to wealth creation and institutional adoption,
where change is not feared and strangled." Also governments are
challenged to adopt themselves in the information age and better
understanding of the new technologies are needed.
Next was a panel on Consumer Protection, chaired by Karen Coyle of
CPSR, that included Benoit De Bayer (Centre de droit de la
consummation, Belgium), Phillip McKee (National Consumer's League,
USA), Nathalie St. Pierre, (Fédération Nationale des Associations de
Consommateurs du Quebec), Louise Sylvan (Vice President of Consumers'
International and Chief Executive of the Australian Consumers'
Association) and Bjorn Erik Thon (Consumer Council of Norway).
The second panel focused on Free Speech and Access. It was chaired by
Barry Steinhardt of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and featured
Yaman Akdeniz (Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties UK), Pippa Lawson
(Public Interest Advocacy Center), Meryem Marzouki (Imaginons un Reseau
Internet Soldaire), Sid Shniad (BC Telecommunications Workers Union),
Rigo Wenning (Fîrderverein Informationstechnik undGesellschaft), and
James Dempsey (Center for Democracy and Technology).
The luncheon speaker was Stephen Lau, the privacy commissioner for Hong
Kong. Mr. Lau spoke about the need to protect dignity in the on-line
The third panel was chaired by Deborah Hurley, director of the Harvard
University Information Infrastructure Project, and looked at issues
related to Privacy and Encryption. Speakers on this panel included
David Banisar (Electronic Privacy Information Center), Ulf Bruhan
(European Commission, DG XV), David Jones (Electronic Frontier Canada
and Computer Science Professor, McMaster University), Viktor
Mayer-Schonberger (University of Vienna, Austria and Kennedy School of
Government, Harvard University), and Jim Savary (York University).
The final panel was on Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century and was
chaired by Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The speakers were Harry Hochheiser (Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility), Jagdish Parikh (Human Rights Watch), Edwin Rekosh
(Public Interest Law Initiative in Transitional Societies), Felipe
Rodriguez (Electronic Frontiers Australia) and Laurie Wiseberg (Human
The GILC participants and other NGOs representatives produced a
statement that was later forwarded to the OECD Ministers (see below).
Complete conference reports are available at the conference report page:
 NGOs Issue Declaration at OECD Conference
Consumer, labor, civil liberties, and research organizations joined
together last week in support of a letter addressed to Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministers on the future of
Internet policy. Representatives of more than twenty non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) from eight countries signed the statement.
The NGOs urged the establishment of a permanent Public Interest
Advisory Committee (PIAC), similar in type and function to business and
labor groups that currently advise the OECD. The group said that the
Committee should include representatives of public interest groups in
the fields of human rights and democracy, privacy and data protection,
consumer protection, and access. The group said that the promotion of
electronic commerce "must be considered within the broader framework of
protection of human rights, the promotion and strengthening of
democratic institutions, and the provision of affordable access to
advanced communication services."
The group made the following recommendations to the OECD:
- Authentication and certification: All OECD member countries should
implement and enforce the 1992 OECD Guidelines for the Security of
Information Systems, particularly the Principles on Democracy, Ethics,
and Proportionality. The OECD should also consider issues of
authentication and certification within the context of consumer
protection and privacy protection. Policies and practices that
disregard consumer and privacy concerns will ultimately undermine
- Cryptography: The OECD should promote implementation of the
Cryptography Guidelines of 1997 and urge the removal of all controls on
the use and export of encryption and other privacy enhancing
techniques. Trust requires the widespread availability of the
strongest means to protect privacy and security.
- Protection of privacy: The OECD should urge member states to
implement fully and develop means to enforce the Privacy Guidelines of
1980. The OECD Guidelines provide an essential framework to establish
consumer trust in online transactions. Self-regulation has failed to
provide adequate assurance. The group further recommended efforts to
promote anonymity and minimize the collection of personal information
so as to promote consumer confidence.
- Consumer protection: The OECD should support the establishment of
minimum standards for consumer protection, including the simplification
of contracts, means for cancellation, effective complaint mechanisms,
limits on consumer liability, non-enforceability of unreasonable
contract provisions, recourse at least to the laws and courts of their
home country, and cooperation among governments in support of legal
redress. Such minimal standards should provide a functional equivalence
to current safeguards, offering at least the same levels of protection
that would be afforded in the off-line world.
- Intellectual property: The framework for intellectual property
protection should be based upon mechanisms that are least intrusive to
personal privacy, and least restrictive for the development of new
- Internet governance: Governments should foster Internet governance
structures that reflect democratic values and are transparent and
publicly accountable to users. Standards processes should be open and
should foster competition.
- Taxation: At the Ottawa ministerial Conference, Charles Rossotti,
Commissioner of the United States Internal Revenue Service, spoke of
the creation of a Tax Advisory Group, in which government and
businesses will participate. Similarly, the public interest groups
should be invited to participate in this advisory group.
- Employment: Impacts on employment must be evaluated and taken fully
into account in all discussions and negotiations.
Finally, the group recommended continued support for the OECD Committee
for Consumer Policy.
The following versions of the NGO letter are available:
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