Visions of the Future: Governments
Wrestle with Information Technology

Prepared as a Directed Research Project
for Professor Hudson N. Janisch,
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto


Dov Wisebrod, April 1995


Outline

  1. Follow the Leader: Paths to the Future of Information Technology
    1. United States
      1. The National Information Infrastructure
      2. The Global Information Infrastructure
    2. Europe
    3. Japan
      1. MPTís Reforms toward the Intellectually Creative Society of the 21st Century
      2. MITIís Program for Advanced Information Infrastructure
    4. Canada

  2. The Struggle for Information: Technology vs. Politics
    1. The Internet
    2. Control of Culture
    3. Conclusion

Visions of the Future: Governments
Wrestle with Information Technology


Announcing the end of announcements
announcing the coming of the digital revolution.


RCA advertisement1

It first emerged more than a decade ago within the creative mind of author William Gibson. He called it 'cyberspace,' and his readers set out to build it. Created as an expression in the new genre of cyberpunk science fiction, it has since grown to encompass the globe with over five million internetworked computers, and ten times as many human visitors.2 Yet, only in the last few years did the broader political, economic, legal, social, and cultural implications of information technology3 begin to attract the focused attention of governments around the world.

The excitement of the term 'cyberspace,' however, was well beyond the limits of the bureaucratic vernacular.4 The Canadian government adopted the conventional tired metaphor when it formed an "information highway"5 advisory council. The American government, depending on how imperial it feels, refers either to the "national information infrastructure"6 or the "global information infrastructure."7 To Europe, it is an emerging "information society,"8 and to Japan it is the "advanced information infrastructure"9 of the "intellectually creative society of the 21st century."10

These four11 regions are in the process of investigating, assessing, planning, and building the global information future. Not the least interesting effect of this adventure is the production of scores of documents outlining the goals of each government and monitoring the progress of their strategies toward achieving them. These strategies are in a state of constant flux, undergoing subtle shifts and evolution. They are continually set out in increasing detail and supplemented by a myriad of submissions, minutes, transcripts, and progress reports. Perhaps that is why there has not yet appeared a comprehensive and integrated assessment of the various documents. To the student of progress, it is a frustrating testament to the wonderful speed of history that this article can never possibly be completely up to date. For that reason, its primary goal is to present ideas, not details. It is the broad strategy of each region that will likely survive over time. Therefore, this will be the perspective I will take in focussing on each vision.

The first purpose of this article is simply to present the vision of the future that each jurisdiction has. Preceding Part One is a brief justification for the exclusion of Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Australia from the scope of this study. Only those regions that have produced comprehensive, overarching, guiding blueprints have been included. Part One includes a synopsis of the four visions that meet this critierion. To the United States is devoted the most attention, for reasons that may be obvious but will nonetheless be explained. The other jurisdictions are assessed independently. By concentrating on the unique attributes of each approach, I hope to present the positions concisely and to prevent an overly repetitive treatment, since many of the reports tread over similar ground. There are, however, distinct differences of opinion and perspective that will become very clear as the examination progresses. While these are identified and alotted limited space in Part One, much of the related discussion is reserved for Part Two.

In Part Two, the four perspectives will be assessed with respect to two major issues. The first is the extent to which each region uses the existing global network of information technologies, the Internet, in its reports. Is the Internet looked to for guidance as to how to proceed, policies that should (or should not) be adopted, examples of applications, references to existing practice, or is it not used at all? Any investigation into the future of information technology cannot ignore the Internet. Indeed, without the global network it would have been impossible to conduct the study upon which I am about to embark. Each and every government document that will be addressed in the following discussion was acquired in the course of research through the Internet, some within days of becoming available to the public.12 While the Internet does not, by any measure, encompass all of the wide variety of information technologies being developed for widespread future use, it distinguishes itself by being a current, global, evolving, and growing system of integrated information technologies. It is an experiment of the future.13

The second issue relates to the relationship among governments internationally. Each government envisions a co-operative co-ordination with and among its fellow members of the global village. In this way, issues that no single government could fully manage independently, or problems that could not be solved other than by international co-operation, can be dealt with collectively. There is, however, a wide divergence of views on one topic in particular: cultural protection, including media ownership and content restrictions. The regional approaches to this issue are analyzed, and a likely solution to the emerging debate is proposed. Before assessing the various reports, the limitation of the study to the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada requires justification. Three notable exclusions are Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Relative to other countries, these have quite advanced studies of the future of information technology. Their strategies are not assessed because, when compared with those of the other four jurisdictions, they are respectively unavailable, underdeveloped, and piecemeal.

Singapore prides itself on being the first country to produce a report on the future use of information technology, unveiling it in August of 1991.14 Indeed, it claims in the introduction to a follow-up document that:

many nations have declared their own NII [i.e. National Information Infrastructure] plans. This includes the USA, Japan, Canada, Korea and nearer to home, Thailand and Vietnam, with many of them drawing lessons from Singapore's earlier foray into what is now commonly known as Superhighway or National Information Infrastructure.15

The "IT2000" report promised to wire Singapore into an "Intelligent Island" with information technology (IT) by that year (2000). The Singaporean government maintains an admirable information repository on the Internet's World Wide Web.16 Unfortunately, while some cursory documents are available at this website, as of this writing the original report is not, and the collateral documents are insufficient to form the basis of a comprehensive analysis.17 Inadequacy of information, therefore, prevents the conduct of a thorough analysis.

The United Kingdom is excluded on the basis of insufficient material, as well. However, the situation is not one of unavailability, as it is with Singapore, but rather of nonexistence. Only a single, small, narrowly-focussed report has so far been produced by the U.K. government. It concerns the implications to government function of information technology.18 While important, that issue is only one of many that must be addressed in a comprehensive plan for the future. Thus, it would be premature and not very valuable to discuss the underdeveloped British approach at this time.

Of the three jurisdictions I have considered but not included, Australia has the most useful material and the most promising ideas about the use of information technology in the "networked nation" by the "creative nation."19 What it lacks are overarching principles and strategies to guide its collection of studies. The Australian Minister of Finance had planned to receive such a comprehensive document in March of 1995, but the Information Technology Review Group (ITRG) to whom was given the responsibility did not produce the expected report. The first of four "Terms of Reference of the Review" was "to consider major trends in the development of computer technology and assess their applicability to and likely impact on Commonwealth information technology."20 However, that did not happen:

Because the Review has had a relatively short timetable, we have focused on areas where members believe greatest impact can be achieved by Government. It has not sought to produce a report that contains a comprehensive and detailed analysis of all aspects of Commonwealth information technology.21

The brevity of the timetable prevented Australia from formulating a report of equal thoroughness to those of other jurisdictions. Given a mere four months to compose recommendations, ITRG chose to deal with the use by government of information technology, presumably because it is on that narrower topic that the latter Terms of Reference focus.22 The result is that the ITRG report failed to become the guiding document it was intended to be. It joined several other impressive but fragmentary Australian reports on narrow topics related to information technology. These include reports on culture,23 content markets,24 research networks,25 and broadband communications.26 A report on employment implications is under preparation, as well.27 Notwithstanding the underachievement of ITRG, the collection of reports is useful in that it presents a deep analysis of narrow issues. In particular, the report on culture presents an articulate and well-argued position for the protection of national culture at a time when information technology threatens its preservation, and it will prove informative in Part Two.

For now, the above reasons dictate that Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Australia be left out of the following study. The section that follows describes the perspectives of the other four jurisdictions, who are well on their way, in varying degrees, to constructing and using that fabled panacea they call various names.


1. Follow the Leader:
Paths to the Future of Information Technology

Have you ever...? You will.

AT&T advertisement28

Marshall McLuhan's famous statement that "the medium is the message" is almost a truism, but that does not detract from its importance, especially given the current topic. As interesting as the content of the government reports is, at least as informative is its presentation. What is said and how it is said are equally important measures of a government's commitment to developing and dealing with information technology. It is certainly crucial to understand the guiding principles and objectives espoused in each report, and these will be set out accordingly. In addition, I will endeavour to describe the tone of language and context of production of each report or set of reports, as the case may be. The context of production can place into perspective much of the content of the reports, and is an equally important indicator of strategy.

Overall, in both context and content, there are great similarities among the four jurisdictions. One fundamental quality shared by all is optimism. While more or less cognizant of the risks involved in paradigmatic shifts of entire social, economic, and technological infrastructures, every government sees enormous potential in such change. And each wants as large a slice of the pie as it can grab. One cannot help but be struck by this observation upon reading the various reports. Much of the reason for this is undoubtedly the expansive language employed almost universally. Regarding the language, two cautionary notes are in order.

First, it must be remembered that an important reason for producing these reports is to by turns alarm, pacify, and inspire the industry and citizens of each nation: alarm by showing areas in which the nation is behind its competitors; pacify by listing areas in which the nation is a leader or prepared to assume a lead role; and inspire by trumpeting the benefits to be enjoyed in the future. Optimism serves the third purpose well. It does not necessarily reflect objective truth.

Second, behind many of the seemingly straightforward recommendations in the reports lie serious implications. A glaring example is the recommendation of the United States for action on the issues of security and privacy, which includes the following:

Action: Review of encryption technology. In April [1993], the President announced a thorough review of Federal policies on encryption technology. In addition, Federal agencies are working with industry to develop new technologies that protect the privacy of citizens, while enabling law enforcement agencies to continue to use court-authorized wiretaps to fight terrorism, drug rings, organized crime, and corruption. Federal agencies are working with industry to develop encryption hardware and software that can be used for this application.29

This paragraph led to one of the most heated debates ever to take place between users of information technology and the American government.30 The infamous Clipper chip was the result of this government initiative. The chip, and the closely associated Skipjack encryption algorithm, were integral parts of the Escrowed Encryption Standard (EES) initiative. The EES was designed to provide automatic encryption for telecommunication transmissions, but also contained a backdoor for authorized wiretapping by law enforcement authorities. Tens of thousands of privacy advocates, civil libertarians, computer professionals, and Internet users banded together against the U.S. Administration, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in an effort to defeat the EES for fear of its frighteningly intrusive implications.31 All this lies behind the curtain of the eight-seven words above. I therefore commend to the reader a healthy dose of skepticism when evaluating the government reports.


A. United States

It is only natural to begin with the American perspective, if only because the U.S. reports are highly comprehensive and will provide an excellent introduction to the issues dealt with by the other jurisdictions. If it seems as though disproportionately detailed attention is being paid to the United States, that is because the other regions look closely to the goals and actions of American government and industry for guidance in preparing their own strategies.32 The United States, perhaps realizing this attitude of the international community, or perhaps for the purpose of widening the ambit of its own ambitions, has produced two reports: "The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action,"33 and "The Global Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Cooperation."34


i. The National Information Infrastructure

The NII report was produced by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). It consists of seven "Tabs," lettered A through G. The first is an "Executive Summary." The following two sections constitute the bulk of the report, describing the "Agenda for Action" (B) and "Benefits and Application Examples" (C). The next two briefly detail the structure and function of two newly created bodies: the Information Infrastructure Task Force (D) and its subordinate U.S. Advisory Council on the NII (E). Finally, some "Accomplishments to Date" (F) are followed by sources for further information (G). The Accomplishments to Date section lists only five, likely because at the time the report was published "to date" defined a period of a mere seven months. The main sections, therefore, are the second and third.

The "Agenda for Action" begins with "The Promise of the NII":

Imagine you had a device that combined a telephone, a TV, a camcorder, and a personal computer. No matter where you went or what time it was, your child could see you and talk to you, you could watch a replay of your team's last game, you could browse the latest additions to the library, or you could find the best prices in town on groceries, furniture, clothes--whatever you needed.35

One is hard-pressed not to compare this dream to the series of AT&T advertisements showcasing the wonders of technology yet to be developed (...and the government that will bring it to you...).36 Indeed, following this imaginative glimpse of the future is a list of no less than eight specific possibilities that may be realized by the National Information Infrastracture.37 But just "What is the NII?"38 The report responds that it is the combination of hardware and software. 'Hardware' includes integrated and interconnected physical components of every conceivable kind. 'Software' includes a multitude of formats, applications, and programs to interface users to information (or 'content'), and also includes network standards to allow for interconnection and interoperability.39

In the most important sections,40 the government defines its own role in the NII. While recognizing that "the private sector is already developing and deploying such an infrastructure today," there is an essential role for "carefully crafted government action [to] complement and enhance the benefits of these private sector initiatives."41 This approach to the relationship of government to the private sector is largely adopted by every other jurisdiction. Finally, government action is set out in nine principles and goals that form the substantive part of the NII "Agenda for Action."

Of the nine, there are three primarily legal and regulatory initiatives. The first is to ensure the primary goal of private sector investment. This is to be accomplished by reforming regulation to encourage competition in communications markets, including cable and telephony, and by revising tax policies, particularly regarding incentives for research and development.42 Second, the government promises to "[e]xtend the 'universal service' concept to ensure that information resources are available to all at affordable prices."43 However, initial action to achieve this important goal consists merely of further consultation. Third, to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights, copyright law and enforcement mechanisms will be examined.44

Government itself is the subject of two principles. One, new technology will enhance access to information held by government, which will endeavour by procurement to establish itself as "a leading edge technology adopter."45 Two, co-ordination with other levels of government (i.e. state, local, and Congress) and regulatory bodies (e.g. Federal Communications Commission) is essential for the Administration's NII to emerge. The corollary importance of international co-ordination is the basis for promises to work towards opening up international markets, and achieving global standards to avoid technological trade barriers.46 Intragovernmental co-ordination is viewed as essential for effective action, and the government wastes no time. The interagency Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF) was immediately formed. It is advised by the private sector U.S. Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure. Complementing both bodies will be a process of streamlining existing federal communications and information policy-making agencies.47 In this way, the United States is preparing for future planning and activity.

The remaining items are technological imperatives. One, act as a catalyst to promote technological innovation and new applications. Funding to achieve this policy goal is provided through the High-Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Program and the NII Pilot Projects Program. Two, promote seamless, interactive, user-driven operation of the NII by ensuring interoperability and openness through consensus-based voluntary standards-setting. Three, ensure security and network reliability. These twin goals are to be accomplished by reviewing privacy concerns, assessing encryption technology as it relates to confidentiality and law enforcement, and working with industry to reduce network vulnerability to damage. Finally, so that wireless spectrum scarcity does not impede the NII, the government sets out to improve management of the radio frequency spectrum.48

Concluding the section is more of the language of which I warned above. "The potential benefits for the nation are immense." The nine objectives constitute a "blueprint for government action on the NII" that "will enable U.S. firms to compete and win in the global economy" and "promises to transform the lives of the American people."49 The United States is the only country not to warn of falling behind the rest of the world. Other reports view the existing American position, and its planned enhancements, with apprehension, and they make advantageous use of this feeling to inspire industry and citizens alike to mobilize, lest they fall further behind. Unlike other jurisdictions, the United States is concerned about further solidifying its place in the forefront of developments. It is the acknowledged leader.

Indeed, the next section shows how the "current information infrastructure is already making a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans, and [Americans] have just begun to tap its potential."50 When outlining the areas in which economic benefits will be enjoyed, the report speaks of "strengthening U.S. leadership in the electronics and information technology sector."51 Benefits will also be experienced in: health care cost reduction, universal electronic access to both public and private information services, collaborative scientific research, "life-long learning," and government cost and efficiency.

In the course of the report, the NTIA, while remaining involved, transfers responsibility for oversight of the NII's development to the IITF. Private sector input is provided by the Advisory Council. The IITF is composed of a number of Committees specializing in particular issues relating to the NII, each of which is comprised of Working Groups with subspecialties.52 Several Committees and Working Groups have developed connections to government departments, either by membership of officials or by working in concert. Monthly reports detail the activities of the entire IITF.53 The IITF, Advisory Council, Committees, and Working Groups, together with all the integrated connections to government departments, form a sophisticated hierarchical network of expertise and experience mapping the American strategy for the National Information Infrastructure. This is the context in which the content of the NII report must be considered.

The sheer size of the IITF effort leads to the inevitable question of rationalizing the scope of government activity with its avowed primary goal of "promoting private sector investment."54 It is apparent that the private sector will be forced to act within a legal, regulatory, and policy environment constructed by the government. Indeed, private sector initiative itself is to be 'promoted' by the public sector. The United States government appears unwilling to divest itself of control of many important aspects of the NII. As will be seen, other governments are similarly reluctant, and express intent to develop the same sort of relationship with the private sector. Whether this complex relationship will succeed, and whether it is either manageable or desirable, remains to be seen.

In sum, the NII report constitutes a comprehensive and integrated guide to the American government's perspective for the future of information technology. The issues discussed by the NTIA will arise repeatedly in all other reports, which are often explicitly, and always implicitly, guided by the position set out by the United States. The U.S. is the leader, and other countries play follow the leader.


ii. The Global Information Infrastructure

In case the NII report was not a clear enough guide for the countries following U.S. leadership, a second report was prepared with an international perspective. The IITF, to whom was passed the responsibility for advising the government, has produced a report outlining the American vision of the global information infrastructure, including guiding principles for its construction, encouraging its use, and its implementation. The report, subtitled "Agenda for Cooperation,"55 in essence constitutes an attempt to convince the IITF's international counterparts to adopt the American approach, as spelled out in "The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action." Certainly, some of the recommendations are supported by the experience of the United States and are universally applicable. Others, however, seem suspiciously like sly attempts to work American principles to American advantage in non-American regions.

The report begins by recalling that the five core American principles, set out below, were included in the "Buenos Aires Declaration on Global Telecommunication Development for the 21st Century."56 That brief "Preface" is followed by an "Introduction" that outlines the pace and structure of the changes communicationd, information technology, and convergence are causing and will continue to cause throughout the world. The buzzword is 'seamless,' as in "a seamless web uniting the world in the emergent Information Age."57 The requirements and benefits of the GII are set out, using health care delivery as an example and the spread of democratic principles of representative democracy as the penultimate benefit. The primacy of the private sector in the development of the GII is stressed, though governments can assist by reforming laws and regulations to support private sector activity.

The explicit impetus and goals are spelled out concisely at the beginning of Part II, "Building a Foundation for the GII--Five Basic Principles":

The United States believes that five basic principles--encouraging private investment, promoting competition, providing open access to networks and services for providers and users, creating a flexible regulatory environment to keep pace with technological and market developments, and ensuring universal service--should serve as the foundation for the development of the GII. In our view, this foundation will facilitate information infrastructure development in individual countries and the interconnection of networks on a global basis. It will also accelerate development of useful applications, and increase sharing of information among people around the world. We believe these principles apply equally to the telecommunications, information technology, and information services industries. In partnership with the private sector and all users, we believe that governments should take action to adopt, apply, and advance these principles at national, regional, and global levels.58

Each of the five principles are expanded, and following the discussion of each is a list of "Recommended Action" that the international community is advised to take. These lists simply extend the recommendations contained within the "Agenda for Action" to the international forum. In some areas, such as the creation of a flexible regulatory environment for telecommunications, the recommended action may be accepted with little contest since it is offered "[w]ith the U.S. experience as our guide...."59 However, in other areas there has been, and will no doubt continue to be, staunch refusal to comply with the American suggestions.

The GII report recognizes this in one section in particular. Part of the notion of promoting competition is to remove barriers to foreign competition in content markets, such as television broadcasting. Yet, many countries stubbornly refuse to dismantle protectionist measures, since they view deregulation of this kind as tantamount to allowing their cultures to become mere branch plants of the American mega-culture. This tension between competition and regulatory protection is the primary asymmetry in the notions the various jurisdictions have about the future of information technology. It is dealt with at length in Part Two; for the moment, the analysis focuses on the GII report.

Following the outline of global principles and arguments for their adoption by other governments, the IITF sets out three principles for "Encouraging the Use of the GII."60 By this phrase, the Task Force means ensuring that content providers produce, content users consume, and everyone feels comfortable using the information on the GII. Each of these three goals has a corresponding principle. First, to ensure the production of content, governments must act to construct a regime of legal and technical protection of intellectual property rights. Second, to ensure that consumers feel free to use the GII, a system for individual privacy protection must be imposed to restrict the collection and use of information produced in the course of communicating over the network. Finally, all users must be assured of network security and reliability.

Concluding the "Agenda for Cooperation" is a list of the potential benefits and guidelines for achieving them,61 a note on international co-operation to eliminate asymmetries of markets and regulations,62 and a brief conclusion.63 On the whole, the GII report mimics the NII report, but extrapolates it to the international community. It adds little to an understanding of the American vision, except to set out issues the U.S. seeks to emphasize, but provides to other countries a statement of principles to either endorse or oppose.


B. Europe

A significant part of the international community to which the GII is addressed is comprised of the sovereign nations of the European Union. Collective European action to usher in the "information society" began with a White paper entitled "Growth, Competitiveness, Employment: The challenges and ways forward into the 21st century."64 The European Council supported the White paper and referred it to the "High Level Group on the Information Society," whose mandate was to prepare a report with recommendations for action. The result was the Bangemann report, named after the leader of the Group and otherwise known as "Recommendations to the European Council: Europe and the global information society."65 On the basis of the Bangemann report, according to its preface, the Council was to "adopt an operational programme defining precise procedures for action and the necessary means."66

On a path thus paved with good intentions the Commission set out to form a plan to bring the information society to Europe. Unfortunately, if there is one thing that the Commission's plan lacks it is the precision Martin Bangemann stressed. The final report is entitled "Europe's Way to the Information Society: An Action Plan."67 It is couched in language that at times is vague, often does no more than call for further study, and rarely says anything of substance. For example, with respect to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), the Commission states that "IPR measures... will have to be reviewed, and the possible need for additional measures examined. ...In the field of private copying, the Commission will shortly present a proposal for a Directive."68 The words relating to IPR measures speak (or say nothing) for themselves. With respect to private copying, it is remarkable that after a White paper, Bangemann's recommendations, and the final report of the European Commission, Europe must further wait for a proposal and a final Directive before action will be taken.

Much of the reason for this delay and bureaucratic entanglement is readily understandable. Whereas the United States expresses concern about the difficulty of co-ordinating levels of government, its ability to do so is far greater than that of the European Commission. The Commission is faced with all the problems confronting other regions preparing for the future, but it must also struggle on three separate fronts: one, it must co-ordinate its own burgeoning bureaucracy; two, it must align all the sovereign Members of the European Union in the same direction of activity; and three, it must consider its role in the broad international context:

The momentum established since the publication of the White Paper must be maintained. But it is not sufficient merely to act; there is a need for a consistent response by Europe to the challenge, avoiding initiatives which neutralise each other or are mutually incompatible. A global, coherent and balanced approach of mutually supportive measures is called for.69

The Commission faces the daunting task of using its bureaucracy to assess global developments and then to impose recommendations on all its Members. It is no wonder that the Commission's report contributes little more than the Bangemann report that preceded it. It must play it safe, and to do so it uses caution and ambiguity to deal with the diversity of interests it represents.

In addition, it seems that the Commission is solely responsible for composing initiatives relating to the information society. Unlike the United States IITF's hierarchy of committees and working groups, the European Commission's report discusses the formation of only one subordinate body. Similar to Bangemann's "High Level Group on the Information Society," the proposed "High Level Group of Experts" would advise the Commission, specifically on issues relating to social, societal, and cultural implications of the information society.70 It may be that delegation is simply not detailed in the report, and that there is indeed a structured advisory system within the Commission. However, it seems unlikely that such a structure would be left out of the report. Similarly, it is possible that there are in fact concrete measures underway, but their existence and exclusion from the report is improbable.

The Commission's report is divided into four parts preceded by an "Introduction." In the order they appear, which is also quite clearly their priority ranking, the parts deal with the "Regulatory and Legal Framework" (I), "Networks, Basic Services, Applications and Content" (II), "Social, Societal and Cultural Aspects" (III), and "Promotion Activities" (IV).

The introductory comments set the tone of the latter materials and demonstrate the attitude discussed above, but which was not fully exemplified by the confident American initiatives. That is, an underlying purpose of the Commission's report is to by turns alarm, pacify, and inspire its readers into action. It alarms by citing the Bangemann report for emphasizing "the urgency of adopting its recommendations," noting that "[t]he race is on at global level, notably US and Japan [sic]. Those countries which will adapt themselves most readily will de facto set technological standards for those who follow."71 It then assures support for the private sector to which, as strongly suggested by the U.S., is passed the gauntlet of building the information society:

The Community will assume its responsibilities for setting the appropriate regulatory environment. In parallel, the private sector is invited to play its entrepreneurial role and launch without delay concrete initiatives for the prompt deployment of the information society.72

In that regard, the report then outlines the measures the Commission will eventually take. Finally, the inspiration comes in the form of predictions as to what the future promises, including "to create new jobs, enhanced social solidarity and to promote Europe's linguistic and cultural diversity."73

Despite this hopeful statement, if there is a theme to the Commission's report, it may be found in the extremely cautious attitude with which it approaches the future. Unlike the American "compete and win" confidence, the European Commission treads lightly:

However, if not adequately framed, [the information society] could create new social and economic discrepancies. The strong support of European citizens is needed for the real 'take-off' of the information society. Its advent is likely to generate some fears, which should not be underestimated.74

That statement appears at the start of Part III, dealing with the social and cultural implications of the future of information technology. To allay those fears, the Commission insists it will give priority to employment, societal, cultural, and linguistic issues. However, for not one of the four issues are concrete measures proposed. The Commission promises only that it will undertake further study with specified goals, and it does not outline definite strategies to achieve those goals.75

Returning to the relatively substantive sections of the report, in Part I the Commission sets out ten elements of a broad "Regulatory and Legal Framework." They are simply a collection of issues that the Bangemann report previously canvassed, and there is no apparent rhyme or reason to their organization, priority, or treatment. The list consists of: (1) liberalization of the telecommunications competitive environment; (2) standardization, interconnection, and interoperability; (3) tariff adjustment and financing universal service; (4) world-wide treatment of certain issues listed independently (intellectual property rights, standardization); (5) intellectual property rights protection; (6) privacy; (7) electronic protection, legal protection, and security; (8) pluralism and media ownership; (9) competition; (10) audiovisual programming and its cultural and sociological impact.76 Clearly, this list is repetitive, disorganized, and takes a shotgun approach hoping to hit all relevant issues. Absent firm recommendations, the repeated promises of continued study are insignificant.

Part II is a collection of four unrelated issues, and the Commission calls for private sector activity in the development of them all. First, several initiatives for trans-European networks (TENs) are set out for future consideration. Second, the Commission states that it will assess required "basic services" by examining, among other things, the services available on the Internet. Third, the implementation and financing of applications, with several examples being provided, will be considered by the Commission. Finally, the provision of audiovisual programs and databases of information will be encouraged.77

Part III was discussed above, and Part IV, dealing with "Promotion Activities," is too imprecise to warrant comment. That seems to be the case of a large part of the European Commission's recommendations for hastening the information society. The report is not clearly organized, the issues are not fully thought out, and there are no conclusions or concrete recommendations of which to speak. If Europe seriously considers itself in a race with the United States and Japan, it must realize that its first runner has fumbled the baton.


C. Japan

Japan's runners are themselves encountering difficulty. Much of it, shockingly enough, is the result of a self-defeating strategy: Japanese bureaucrats are competing against one another. Two primary documents have been produced by two different government ministries. The first was produced by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and is titled the "Program for Advanced Information Infrastructure."78 The Telecommunications Council of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) countered (literally) with its "Reforms toward the Intellectually Creative Society of the 21st Century."79 Both came out in May of 1994, and both deal with the future of information technology in Japan. Remarkably, neither acknowledges the existence of the other, let alone comments on its parallel proposals.

An explanation, but far from a justification, for this strange circumstance may be found in the competitive culture that permeates the Japanese government bureaucracy:

Though nominally a Western-style democracy, Japan is actually run by bureaucrats, not politicians. Japanese bureaucrats are selected on merit from among graduates of top universities. These are the ultimate products of what is probably the most competitive education system in the world. They bring their razor-sharp competitive instincts to their new positions. But whom to compete against? Why, bureaucrats at other ministries, of course.80

In this context, MPT and MITI are archrivals. Historically, MITI's domain was computers, and communications was the responsibility of MPT.81 Both ministries have since become well aware of convergence and networking, the growing movement to merge and interconnect computers, communications, and all other information technologies. Each is doing its best to assure itself a place alone at the forefront of developments by blocking out the other. Bureaucratic infighting thus colours both reports. For example, the meaning of the following paragraph, from MITI, is clear once one is aware of MPT's counter proposal:

It is hoped that this program will serve as the starting point for government-wide implementation, and that it will help to establish and implement the measures concerned by presenting a specific image of and policies for the advanced information system to both the public and the entire governmental organization.82

The loser in this battle will not be MITI or MPT, but Japan. There is no independent rationale for interministerial competition, and the two reports need not oppose each other. In fact, as will be seen, they are quite complementary.

While it is the latter of the two reports, MPT's better expresses concern for the risks inherent in the transition to an information infrastructure. I will therefore discuss it first to provide an overview of the concerns of the Japanese. In addition, MPT deals with important issues that MITI ignores. However, MPT's report does not have the same level of organization and attention to detail that is characteristic of the MITI document. It will become increasingly clear that a union of the two strategies and sets of proposals would be not only possible but also highly advantageous for Japan.


i. MPT's Reforms toward the Intellectually Creative Society of the 21st Century

MPT has been justifiably criticized as "rushing out a counterproposal"83 to MITI's report. The document is little more than an organized collection of extremely brief comments and ideas. Many concepts are touched upon, but none is given thorough treatment. One theme that may be derived is a trade-off between benefits and risks. The transition to the intellectually creative society will contribute solutions to existing problems, but it may also create new ones. This may perhaps explain the relatively active role that MPT envisions for government, whereas other reports see government as a mere catalyst or facilitator of private sector entrepreneurial initiative.84

The impetus for MPT's proposed reforms demonstrates again the alarm, pacify, and inspire strategy:

Japan's capabilities for utilizing information and related facilities already show a substantial qualitative difference compared to the United States and other nations. Japan's lag in keeping pace with these others in the creation of info-communications infrastructure is giving rise to fears that Japan's position in the international community of the 21st century may be threatened.85

Section 1 (of seven) continues the scare tactic by setting out the problems facing Japan. Domestic issues include dealing with an aging population, the overconcentration of population in urban areas, an economic structure of declining foreign investment, and a populace seeking a more spiritually fulfilling lifestyle.86 Internationally, the need for a more socially, economically, and culturally "open" society, and environmental coping strategies are explained.87

Part of the solution is the construction of a high-performance info-communications infrastructure, defined as "a comprehensive entity that encompasses network infrastructure, terminals, software applications, human resources, public and private info-communications systems, as well as social values and lifestyles related to the information-oriented society."88 This describes the four-part model MPT proposes to be used in assessing and dealing with developments: (1) Information transmission infrastructure, (2) information processing and transceiving devices, (3) applications and databases, (4) lifestyles and work styles, including socioeconomic value systems.89 This model serves a crucial purpose as a framework within which to categorize and assemble proposals of more detail. MPT's structure is the most valuable asset it can contribute to a Japanese strategy comprising an, albeit unlikely, MITI/MPT combination.

Section 2 outlines the implications of the infrastructure, beginning with its prime benefit of solving the abovenoted problems. In addition, the new multimedia market will contribute to economic and employment growth. However, concern is expressed for implications to existing jobs and industry, work- and lifestyles, barriers to participation, and a trio of consumer issues: privacy, security, and reliability. MPT oscillates back and forth between heralding the benefits and cautioning about the risks of the new infrastructure.

Sections 3 and 4 discuss the infrastructure itself. The first claims to discuss aspects of fibre-optic networks, but in reality it deals with all formats of transmission networks. It does so in an abrupt and cursory manner familiar throughout the report. Issues include overall trends in the need for such networks, their technological development, the media that will travel over them, and the cost of construction. The following section outlines prerequisites for achieving the goals sought from the infrastructure. The approach must include concentration on generating consumer demand, and developing an integrated, user-friendly, standardized, internationally co-operative, and rapidly upgraded network. A number of vague goals for all segments of society are set out. Finally, there appears an extremely ambitious, if not downright impossible, timetable designed to have 100% of the population connected to a fibre-optic network by 2010.

The fifth and sixth sections, respectively, discuss applications for the infrastructure and upgrading to support those applications. Section 5 recognizes the importance of speed of innovation, creativity, standardization, and international co-operation in the development of applications. The government's role in this regard is to lead and support the private sector, as well as to promote use of the applications. The role for government thus set out, to interact with both the industrial and individual sectors of society, is the most active of all reports. Section 6, discussing upgrading of the network, emphasizes concern for consumer benefit and efficiency. To achieve these goals, MPT primarily recommends competition and the promotion of private sector investment, as dictated by the U.S.

The seventh and final section consists of a haphazard list of policy issues to support the goals discussed earlier. They range from promoting investment by tax and interest-free loan incentives, to supporting application and market development by intellectual property rights protection, standardization, international co-operation, and universal service. This section in particular provides evidence of the rushed preparation of the report in reponse to MITI's. MPT does itself a great disservice in producing a report that declines in calibre considerably from the first two sections. Even selfish, interministerial, competitive rationales would dictate in favour of a higher quality production.


ii. MITI's Program for Advanced Information Infrastructure

MITI's document is superior in that respect. It is a polished, detailed treatment and, of all the reports canvassed in this article, it is the best organized and the most dense with information and concrete measures. The report also distinguishes itself by the extent to which it recognizes the areas in which Japan must work hard to catch up to its global competitors. MITI specifically addresses these areas with highly specific actions. On the other hand, the concrete actions are susceptible to appear overly impressive as a result of their specificity. As noted in MPT's report, setting goals is an important part of any program, since:

explicit goals will lead to the motivation of private sector investment, stimulation of user demand and a changing of people's values.... They will accordingly promote the comprehensive and rapid development of full-functioning info-communications infrastructure.90

This effect may be achieved regardless of the viability of the measures proposed, hence the incentive to be highly ambitious, such as MPT's proposal 100% fibre-optic penetration by 2010.91 Another criticism is that MITI lacks a clear vision for the advanced information infrastructure it espouses. There is no concern for broad social issues as expressed by MPT, nor is there a guiding model of the sort included in MPT's report.

The document consists of two Chapters. Chapter 1, "The Emerging Image of the Advanced Information Society," is arranged in two main parts. The first considers the dissemination of advanced information systems into industry,92 homes,93 and the public sector.94 Each section in the first two categories consists of comments on "short-term prospects," which detail present technological capability, and "medium- and long-term prospects," which refer primarily to current U.S. developments anticipated for Japan's future. The public sector section is shorter, but is given deeper treatment in Chapter 2. Overall, the part is overwhelmingly descriptive of the present and conservative in its outlook for the future. However, it is nonetheless important for its foundation in real technology and its concomitant accuracy. This detail distinguishes MITI's caution from that of the European Commission, and avoids the imaginative promises characteristic of the U.S. NII initiative.

The latter part of Chapter 1, which discusses the networks of the advanced information infrastructure, also draws heavily from existing technology--in particular, the Internet. In no other report is the Internet referred to so advantageously to provide an example of a "desirable"95 global network. The principles that guide the Internet are the same that MITI intends to apply to Japan's future information network. The network will be characterized by seamless integration and driven by user choice in order to meet "diversified needs and technological innovation."96 Further, since there are significant uncertainties as to the need for a network consisting of one- and/or two-way broadband communication, the private sector is advised to "build broadband telecommunications infrastructures with the technology and timing which are the most suitable for each assumed area of demand."97 In sum, MITI's vision of the advanced information network will be modeled on the Internet, but designed by the private sector to cater to the market.

Chapter 2 sets out basic policy initiatives necessary to achieve the vision set out in Chapter 1. The first of four parts outlines the expected role of government, setting the stage for the remaining parts. Based on the American initiative, it recognizes government's role as a user of information technology and the sculptor of a legal and regulatory environment conducive to private sector activity, which will lead efforts to advance the new society. In this respect, MITI retreats substantially from MPT's vision of a greater role for government, toward the more common American view. Finally, MITI recognizes that the international dimension necessarily impacts the available strategic options.98

The second part of the chapter sketches the use of information technology in five public sectors: education, research, medical and welfare services, administrative services and libraries. Each section begins with an "outlook" followed by an assessment of the "status quo" and a description of the "concrete measures" that have been adopted to improve the situation. The outlooks present known and anticipated technological developments in the area and their effects. The status quo discussions direct attention at the advances made in the United States as opposed to Japan. For example:

...while the number of students per computer averages 19.2 in the United States..., the equivalent figure in Japan is 38.6....99
In the United States, a system is being established in which, by transmitting charts and X-ray images between hospitals, local doctors can consult medical specialists and provide medical treatment making use of the latest expertise and technology. ...In Japan, however, the transmission of medical information is only conducted for experimental purposes in some areas....100

Finally, concrete measures are sometimes proposed but more often described, since in each area there is usually at least one initiative currently underway to narrow the gap between the U.S. and Japan. Pilot programs are described, acquisitions are numbered, and the Ministry with oversight is named. For example, consider the detail of the substantive remedies to the deficits described above. First, the ratio of computers to students:

The Ministries of Education and Home Affairs will carry out the systematic introduction of computers by rental or leasing arrangements, with the aim of allocating 22 computers per primary school, 42 computers per junior high school, 8 computers per school of special education, and 42 computers per senior high school offering general courses, over a period of roughly six years up to 1999.101

Second, medical data transmission:

Model operations in which medical image information is exchanged using high-definition satellite communications, etc. have been undertaken in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare since 1993. (In 1993, such operations were implemented at the Aomori Prefectural Chuo Hospital, the Aomori Prefecture Kokuho Ohma Hospital, and the Mutsu City Polyclinic.)102

With such considered and blunt assessment of domestic problems, followed by detailed and already implemented solutions, it may be concluded that under MITI's guidance Japan has the potential to assume the global lead to usher in the advanced information infrastructure. It must be recalled, however, that ambitious goals reward regardless of the viability of achieving them.

The final two parts of Chapter 2 deal with legal and regulatory issues relating to the hardware and software sections of the infrastructure. MITI calls this the "environment" within which the private sector will act. The measures proposed to stimulate the hardware infrastructure usually involve continuing study, forming new councils, or encouraging certain activity. The four issues thought to require such attention are: (1) security, (2) standardization, (3) legal implications of computerization,103 and (4) intellectual property rights protection.104 With respect to software, or the content and applications of the infrastructure, MITI recognizes that "Japan has a problem:"105 The supply of contents and applications has been relatively lower than that of hardware. Detailed initiatives are proposed to prepare "an environment where contents and applications may be provided to the market to a sufficient degree...."106

Despite the substantial content of the report, there is no mention of four important issues identified by the United States and Europe: employment implications, personal privacy, media ownership, and universal service. Other missing pieces are said to be the subjects of upcoming studies. These are deregulation of the communications and information industries, which "is considered to be a major pillar in developing an environment for the dissemination of information technology in the private sector,"107 and technological development. Given these gaping omissions, it may be said that, only so far as it goes, Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry has conducted a reasoned, critical self-analysis, has already undertaken solutions to some of the problems it found, and has composed concrete plans to solve the others.

The crucial, unasked question is whether and when MITI and MPT will collectively act in Japan's best interests and co-ordinate their efforts. The approach MITI has taken, including precision, detail, and copious information and discussion, will likely prove beneficial if continued. It has gone well beyond the hyperbole of the United States and the inaction of the European Commission. Yet, the vision possessed by MPT is of enormous utility to guide further action, and MPT's coverage of the issues is more comprehensive than MITI's. Indeed, all four of the issues MITI has failed to include in its report are dealt with by MPT. All the puzzle pieces are on the table, and the sole remaining task is to fit them together. If and when this is done, Japan will likely be situated in an enviable position of some leadership among the nations traveling the information highway.


D. Canada

Development of the Canadian information highway is not plagued by the same co-ordination difficulties facing Japan. Canada's strategy is much like the American one in that it is being conducted by a hierarchical system of working groups and subcommittees, each contributing expertise toward a well-defined common goal set out in an overarching policy document. Canada has followed the American approach closely, and the positions that have been articulated on many issues mirror each other. However, in at least one key area--control of cultural content--there are significant differences.

The Canadian Ministry of Industry began the effort in April of 1994 with a discussion paper entitled "The Canadian Information Highway: Building Canada's Information and Communications Infrastructure."108 This initial document sets out a national vision and strategy, the existing infrastructure, and fifteen public policy questions that must be answered. The formulation of these questions represents the systematic way in which the Canadian government has dissected and will analyze the issues pertaining to the future of information technology.

This methodology is quite common. The U.S. NII report was the first to be arranged by subdivision, in that case into nine discrete topics.109 Canada does the best job of mimicking the American approach, and adapts it to the Canadian situation. Canada has avoided the difficulty apparent in the report of the European Commission, which attempted to take a similar approach of subdivision into ten topics but failed miserably to mold those topics into a clear and integrated strategy.110 Similarly, it has negotiated a path nearer the American approach than Japan. MPT's document is less discretely organized, opting instead for a haphazard conceptual approach,111 and MITI's document leans toward the opposite end of the spectrum, drowning in extreme detail.112

The answers to the fifteen questions are to be composed by a newly created organization. At its end, the Canadian Information Highway (CIH) discussion paper introduces the Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC). It is important at this point to understand the composition and role of this organization. IHAC is the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Advisory Council, in that it is a private sector representative body which will advise the government. Unlike the American administrative structure, however, in which the government-composed public sector IITF is the overseer of the process, in Canada it is the government-appointed private sector IHAC that is co-ordinating activity. IHAC has five subordinate working groups: Access and Social Impact, Canadian Content and Culture, Competitiveness and Job Creation, R&D Applications and Market Development, and Learning and Training.113 To the Advisory Council and its working groups fell the responsibility to develop recommendations on all fifteen issues to submit to Industry Canada.

It is guided in this regard by the overarching strategy set out by Industry Canada at the very beginning of the CIH paper in the form of three objectives and four principles:

Recognizing the economic, cultural and social implications of the information highway, the government proposes three objectives to be pursued by the strategy:
[1] create jobs through innovation and investment
[2] reinforce Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity
[3] ensure universal access at reasonable cost.

Four principles are advanced to guide the development and implementation of the strategy:
[1] an interconnected and interoperable network of networks
[2] collaborative public and private sector development
[3] competition in facilities, products and services
[4] privacy protection and network security.114

In addition, IHAC formally adopted a fifth operation principle: [5] lifelong learning.115 While repeating many of the five GII principles set out by the U.S., it is clear upon comparison that Canada has explicitly adopted quite a different focus. The difference is embodied primarily in the first two objectives, but also in the last two principles. They focus on people, the users of the information highway. In effect, what Canada has done is lift the "Social, Societal, and Cultural Aspects" which Europe deals with,116 and the similar social issues the Japanese MPT concerns itself with,117 to the status of overarching guiding principles. Combine this perspective with an arrangement and treatment of issues similar to the American approach, and what results is Canada's vision for the future of information technology.

The document proceeds to recognize that Canada's major trading partners, the U.S., Europe, and Japan, have started similar programs. Each is described in sequence. Then begins the now familiar alarm, pacify, and inspire propaganda:

If Canada does not match the efforts of its competitors in accelerating infrastructure development, opportunities for network, product and service development--and the resulting economic growth and new jobs--will be seized by firms in other countries. The critical services and connections that Canadian businesses need for international competitiveness will be provided by our competitors, and Canadians could find their communications systems almost devoid of Canadian content, products and services.118

The inspiring vision, which is "to make Canada number one in the world in the provision and utilization of the information highway,"119 is then set out in terms of the benefits for the private and public sectors,120 and by explaining the above objectives and principles.121 Presumably to pacify the awestruck average Canadian with the notion that the country is not so far behind others, the document then outlines all aspects of the existing Canadian information technology infrastructure, including private and public networks, research networks, the information technology industry, and content providers.122

Finally, the discussion paper reaches the substance of the strategy, composed of fifteen public policy questions that must be addressed. It is here that the legal and policy basis of the Canadian information highway will be sculpted. The procedure for answering these questions is similar to the passage of a Bill through the House of Commons. Recommendations are subject to three readings before IHAC before approval for incorporation into the final report to Industry Canada. The minutes of the Advisory Council's meetings include readings of the recommendations at different stages of progress. In this way, the results of the investigation into the issues are evolving over time, growing more distinct and concrete with each formulation. In the following discussion, the issues will be set out as framed in the original CIH discussion paper, but their elaboration draws on later documents, such as the Advisory Council's November 1994 "Progress Report,"123 and the most recent available minutes of its meetings.124

The first five issues relate to the building of the infrastructure: (1) speed and finance of construction; (2) the proper balance between competition and regulation; (3) review of Canadian ownership and control requirements; (4) standardization; and, (5) intergovernmental co-ordination.125 IHAC expresses strong commitment to private sector investment, except where market forces do not suffice and the government is required to intervene. Two examples are research and development and the construction of wireless networks, viewed as crucial due to Canada's geography. The Advisory Council sees the move toward competition as a gradual shift overseen by regulators who will emerge in new roles as referees or arbitrators. Conversely, continued regulation is generally approved for Canadian ownership requirements, though some flexibility is seen as necessary to allow for foreign investment capital. (Whether this will satisfy the United States remains to be seen.) With respect to standardization, international co-operation is more readily endorsed, and a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the international community is foreseen. On the final issue, the Advisory Council agrees there is a need for collaboration and co-ordination among levels of government, but proposes no definite strategy.126

The next five questions deal primarily with what is likely the most intractable problem facing all nations: regulation of content on the information highway. The issues are: (6) intellectual property rights protection; (7) measures to support Canadian cultural content and services; (8) controls, if any, on information; (9) use of the information highway to improve government information services; and, (10) protection of personal privacy and security.127 All these issues, except perhaps (9), are very difficult to effectively deal with because they are driven by technology, which has demonstrated an affinity for routing around policy, regulation, and law.128 The protection of copyright is seen as an important issue sufficient to justify its own SubCommittee, which has produced an independent report.129 Canadian cultural content is also seen as a crucial issue, as discussed below. The Access and Social Impacts Working Group is working on recommendations for controlling content, specifically offensively obscene and hate-mongering information.130 Finally, IHAC recognizes that the issues of privacy and security are technological, and it has for that reason focused on a technological solution: encryption.131

The seventh issue, that of control of cultural content, is particularly problematic. There is no doubt of Canada's devotion to protecting and nurturing its culture, especially given its entrenchment as an overall objective. David Johnston, Chair of IHAC, wrote that: "We must continue to develop Canadian content that Canadians will choose, even while they have the databases of the world opening up to them."132 However, there is much hand-wringing among Advisory Council members over how to best accomplish this goal.133 The minutes of the February meeting report a "lengthy discussion... on whether the traditional regulatory framework is suitable for promoting and protecting Canadian content."134 While the key was acknowledged to be, as David Johnston had earlier indicated, "[c]reating an environment in which the consumer will choose to purchase Canadian content,"135 a distinction difficult to define, let alone resolve, lies at the root of this issue. That is, the difference "between the terms 'consumer' (choice, efficiency model) and 'citizen' (cultural identity, social/cultural policy model)"136 must be carefully considered. However this dilemma is resolved, one conclusion remains clear: the United States will not be pleased with any restrictions placed on foreign cultural content.137

The final five issues focus on acquiring the maximum benefit from the information highway for all segments of Canadian society: (11) ensuring that information industries take advantage of opportunities in R&D and technological development; (12) improving the growth and competitiveness of all Canadian businesses; (13) assuring universal access to essential services at reasonable cost; (14) encouraging consumer awareness; and, (15) identifying opportunities to improve government operations.138 The Advisory Council sees a strong role for government in supporting industrial R&D, primarily in the field of content creation,139 and creating electronic access to Canada's rich resources of libraries and culture. Increasing the level of awareness of opportunity is viewed as the primary hurdle to improvements of growth and competitiveness. The complexity of defining and implementing universal access is recognized by IHAC, but a commitment is nonetheless expressed toward ensuring it in both network and content services. Consumer awareness is thought to hinge on "adopting a lifelong learning culture" to convince consumers of the importance of the information highway to their individual lives. Finally, IHAC recommends that the Canadian government establish itself as a "model user" of information technology by, among other strategies, exercising its procurement power wisely.140

In sum, Canada is progressing rapidly from the original CIH discussion paper in April 1994. The Advisory Council has maintained the initial structure of the effort as fifteen discrete issues, and it has also managed to retain the overrall vision embodied in the objectives and principles set out by Industry Canada. In organizational and substantive approach, Canada is more similar to the U.S. than is either Europe or Japan. This is a positive indicator of Canada's potential success, if only because the U.S. is so far ahead of its competitors.

In certain respects, however, the Canadian recommendations differ considerably from the American approach. Most apparent is the focus on cultural protection, which is clearly shaping up as the main issue of dispute among the countries trying to design the future. Another difference is the level of government activity. The Canadian view leans toward that apparent in the Japanese MPT report, including a much more involved role for government than foreseen by the United States. Whereas the GII principles include "encouraging private investment" and "creating a flexible regulatory environment,"141 Canada intends "collaborative public and private sector development"142--a phrase which gives the impression of an interactive and stronger government role, while saying nothing about the firmness or flexibility of the regulatory environment. The Canadian government's propensity for active regulation may have to be curbed to allow for the benefits it so dearly wants. At the moment, IHAC has expressed a reluctance to eliminate regulation altogether--even while advocating competition in the market--choosing instead to tentatively support an as yet undefined role for regulators as arbitrators.143 As Professor Janisch observes, "we are going to have to learn to control our Canadian visceral reaction to regulate everything."144


A Global Vision of the Future?

Item                  U.S.   Europe   Japan   Canada
====================================================
Law and Regulation
------------------

Intellectual prop.
rights protection 	x 	x 	x 	x 

Encourage private
sector investment 	x 	x 	x 	x 

Competition
(vs. regulation) 	x 	x 	x 	x 

Tax/Tariff/R&D
incentives 		x 	x 	x 	x 

Universal service 	x 	x 	x 	x 


Technology
----------

Materially support
tech. development 	x 	x 	x 	x 

Radio/wireless/
satellite mngmnt 	x 	x 	x 	x 

Security and
reliability 		x 	x 	x 	x 

Standardization for
interoperability /
interconnectivity 	x 	x 	x 	x 
 	 	
 	 	 
Government
----------

Access to gov't
information 		x 	- 	x 	x 

Catalyze technology
by funding and
procurement 		x 	- 	x 	x 

Co-ordinate
within/among levels
of government 		x 	x 	no 	x 

International
co-ordination and
co-operation 		x 	x 	x 	x 


Society and Culture
-------------------

Interactive and
user-driven	 	x 	- 	x 	- 

Cultural content
controls (e.g.
media ownership) 	vs. 	x 	? 	x 

Labour/employment
quality and quantity
improvement 		x 	x 	x 	x 

Privacy protection 	x 	x 	x 	x 


Legend
------

"x"	=	expresses support for the policy
"-"	=	does not deal with the policy
"no"	=	demonstrates opposition to the policy145
"vs."	=	expresses opposition to the policy146
"?"	=	ambiguous language about the policy147

2. The Struggle for Information:
Technology vs. Politics

In the struggle for information, technology,
not politics will be the ultimate decider.


Arthur C. Clarke148

That completes the presentation of the positions of the United States, the European Commission, Japan, and Canada on the future of information technology. On the previous page appears a table presenting the main issues and the regions' views on them. While an extreme simplification which does not reflect the details contained within the reports, the table does strikingly demonstrate the overwhelming uniformity of visions of the future. Legal, regulatory, and technological issues are fully agreed upon by the four jurisdictions.

Governmental issues are not so uniform, but this concern is completely contained within the domestic environment, as opposed to impacting in the international arena directly. It may therefore be summarily discussed. First, Japan's bureaucratic co-ordination difficulties will adversely affect its own efforts, but only tangentially, if at all, would the struggle between MPT and MITI affect other countries' efforts. Similarly, the European Commission's failure to deal with the issues of access to government information and government procurement could only directly affect the situation within Europe. While the Commission may have taken the opportunity to present a recommendation to its sovereign members, its failure to do so may perhaps be explained by its implicit decision to play a co-ordination role only, and not to unduly interfere with the domestic policies of its members. Given the difficulty of co-ordinating the diverse members of the European union, this decision is a reasonable one.

The asymmetry of positions on social and cultural issues, specifically the control of cultural content on the information highway, is not so easily explained. This issue is closely related to the 'struggle for information,' a contest in which Arthur C. Clarke thinks technology will trump politics. If he is correct, and an extreme position is taken, then perhaps the government reports are irrelevant to the future of information technology. More likely, a moderate position is correct, and what must temper a faith in technology is Esther Dyson's observation that "Cyberspace still exists at the pleasure of the real world."149 Even given this moderate position, however, it is indisputable that technology will push content around the world, with little or no regard for regulatory controls. One need look no further than the existing anarchic situation on the Internet to substantiate this conclusion.

These are the two major issues with which I will deal in the following discussion. First, have governments considered the Internet in formulating their policy plans? Second, of what effect on the potential for international co-operation is disagreement on the highly-charged issue of cultural protection? The questions are closely interrelated. The Internet demonstrates the capacity of technology to be used in ways that defeat the purposes served by international borders. Such uncontrollable communication and exchange of electronic information has dire implications for those who would choose to control content, cultural or otherwise.


A. The Internet

The Internet is a network of interconnected computer networks. The term "Internet" is confusing, because it implies a cohesive unit denoted by a single name, and that is far from the case. It has been called "a rare example of a true, modern, functional, anarchy."150 The Internet is not controlled, and it likely cannot be controlled, short of disconnecting all telecommunication devices connecting any computers. Counterintuitively, the very characteristics of open access and anarchy have driven its growth so spectacularly.151 In the context of international plans for the future of information technology, it is this growth and popularity that is important:

Net watchers expect the Internet and interactive cable-TV architectures to mesh eventually in some fashion. "Most people assume that the two worlds are going to intersect," says Lotus Development Corp. founder Mitch Kapor. "But nobody knows when or how that is going to happen."152

Thus, the first reason that the ubiquity and success of the Internet demands attention from governments is that it will likely not be replaced by the next incarnation of the information highway, but will rather be integrated into it. As the 'original' information highway, the Internet will inevitably have considerable influence on the nature of its progeny. Secondly, the popularity of the Internet rightly suggests that an Internet-like infrastructure is what people want: "While the 500-channel universe is receiving a lot of attention, research suggests that the Internet has more of what consumers actually want."153

Despite firmly occupying the leadership position among nations in this area, the United States' NII and GII documents do not take any cues from the Internet. Rather, the "astonishing growth rate of the Internet network--over ten per cent per month for more than five years" is understood to be "just one indication of the growing demand for and supply of digital information."154 Perhaps this is true, but it may also be an indication of much more, such as the growing demand for something like the Internet. Unfortunately, the Internet is used in the reports only to exemplify existing use of information technology by government,155 scientists,156 and educators.157 Had the U.S. sought more substantial guidance from the existing infrastructure, all other countries may have acted upon this and dealt with the Internet at greater depth. As it stands, such attention is rare and unimpressive.

For instance, Canada misses the mark. Like the American reports, the CIH discussion paper and IHAC's Progress Report refer almost exclusively to existing use of the Internet, rather than to lessons that may be learned from that use.158 In one section detailing the existing Canadian information network, added almost as an afterthought is the fact that it "also provides access to the Internet," thus completely missing the point of the importance of Internet connectivity to the success of the existing network.159

Among Canada's fifteen public policy issues, only the eighth, dealing with the desirability and possibility of control of information, refers to the Internet:

Judging from the extensive use made of the Internet and similar systems for personal communication and discussion groups, the rising use of electronic bulletin boards, as well as the rapid deployment of electronic mail and messaging systems, it is obvious that users value the ability to converse freely with each other.160

While a promising start, in that it accurately reflects the considerable extent to which unfettered communication is valued by users of the Internet,161 this approach degraded rapidly in the Advisory Council's later Progress Report and its evolving recommendations. The Progress Report concentrates not on the value of this ability, but on the problems it causes with respect to the proliferation of offensive content.162 The latest available recommendations on this issue speak not of maintaining freedoms, but of imposing a voluntary censorship regime.163 Yet again, Canada seems to have missed the point which the Internet should have clearly demonstrated. In sum, although the Canadian reports refer to existing use of the Internet, with the exception of the eighth issue the Internet is not cited for guidance, and even the eighth issue does not deal with it well.

Nevertheless, Canada has the European Commission and Japan's MPT beat by far. Both mention the Internet only once. Europe refers to it with respect to standardization and the definition of basic services, two areas in which the existing network may be a helpful guide.164 MPT cites the Internet as an example of the potential of information technology to improve efficiency in work and research and development.165

Japan's MITI, on the other hand, cites the Internet numerous times for different purposes. As discussed earlier, MITI considers the Internet one part of the foundation of the model it seeks to develop. Combined with some modification by private industry to cater the demands of the market, the basic Internet model is proposed as the framework for future use of information technologies.166 In addition, MITI refers to American use of the Internet as a guide for the development of Japan's own applications of the global network. The American situation is cited with reference to sending information from the home,167 using the Internet in classrooms,168 research,169 and access to government information.170 MITI also uses the Internet as an example of the successful emergence of standardization, concluding that excessive governmental interference may hinder market acceptance of standards, and is only necessary where the market fails to establish interoperability.171

Of the four jurisdictions, only half of Japan's approach to the future of information technology makes a concerted effort to be attentive to the lessons of the Internet. Of course, if MPT has its way in the battle with MITI, that approach will never be realized. The inevitable conclusion is that it appears unlikely government policy planning will encourage use of the Internet to help shape the future of information and communication networks. The irony is twofold. First, technology, and not politics, will succeed in the struggle for information. Regardless of government support or none, if the users of information technology--those who develop hardware, program software applications, create content, and use all of these components--desire an Internet-like infrastructure, so shall it be. And history demonstrates that this desire is quite common. Second, in the Internet may be seen many of the elements expected to emerge in any new infrastructure, so that governments are doing no more than adversely affecting themselves by ignoring it. In fact, the implications of the one issue that threatens to set governments against each other is readily apparent from the Internet: control of cultural content.


B. Control of Culture

All countries realize that no single one can build the global information infrastructure.172 The United States seems the most perturbed by this circumstance, which led it spur matters onward with its "GII: Agenda for Cooperation."173 Others are content to recognize that co-operation is necessary and that they must be prepared to collaborate with their global partners on issues such as technological standardization for interoperability and harmonization of intellectual property rights protection. The debate over technical standards and legal regimes, however, is one in which the participants attempt to decide whose to use, or which parts to assemble into a viable whole. It is very much unlike the debate over culture.

There is a brief statement about culture that appears in the introduction to an Australian document, entitled "Creative Nation: Commonwealth Cultural Policy," that encapsulates the entire debate: "Culture creates wealth."174 Insightfully, Australia recognizes that a cultural policy is also an economic policy. On this fulcrum balances the entire debate. On the one hand, there is the United States, frustrated by protective cultural policies of other countries because it prevents its mass cultural industries from infiltrating other countries in ways that are economically beneficial to itself. On the other, there is Europe, Canada, and Australia,175 who argue that 'wealth' is derived from indigenous culture in a form that is as much intangible contribution to national identity as it is tangible economic value.

It would be difficult to find as potent a statement in favour of the protection of national culture than appears in the introduction to the Australian document, and with that excuse I present the following lengthy quotation:

Culture... concerns identity--the identity of the nation, communities and individuals. We seek to preserve our culture because it is fundamental to our understanding of who we are. It is the name we go by, the house in which we live. Culture is that which gives us a sense of ourselves.

Culture, therefore, also concerns self-expression and creativity. Not only do we seek to preserve our heritage and tradition, we cultivate them. We preserve the things that make us what we are and cultivate the means of reaching what we can be. We recognise that the life of the nation and all our lives are richer for an environment in which art and ideas can flourish, and in which all can share in the enjoyment of them.

With a cultural policy we recognise our responsibility to foster and preserve such an environment. We recognise that the ownership of a heritage and identity, and the means of self-expression and creativity, are essential human needs and essential to the health of society.

...Yet many Australians say that just now Australian culture is under unprecedented threat. And they have good cause for saying it. The revolution in information technology and the wave of global mass culture potentially threatens that which is distinctly our own. In doing so it threatens our identity and the opportunities this and future generations will have for intellectual and artistic growth and self-expression.176

It is this view to which Canada adheres. A recent survey reports that more than 50% of Canadians are concerned about the impact of the information highway on Canada's cultural identity, and over 60% support government responsibility for its protection.177 It is no wonder, therefore, that Industry Canada and IHAC support regulatory protection of cultural content and are intent on finding a mechanism to do so.178 Also no surprise is the existence of Canadian ownership and content regulations imposed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under the authority granted to it by the Broadcasting Act.179 Similarly, the European Commission is concerned about cultural implications of the information society. The attention it plans to devote to the matter is reflected in the fact that the only subordinate body expressly created in the course of its report is a "High Level Group of Experts" to deal with social and cultural issues.180

In response to this argument for cultural protection, the U.S. Information Infrastructure Task Force argues in its GII document as follows:

One important exception [to a policy of "few or no restraints" on competition] has been a tendency in a few countries to erect barriers to foreign competition in entertainment programming services. There is no body of evidence that limiting foreign competition has been successful in achieving the desired effect of stimulating local entertainment programming industries. The effects of such measures in retarding the development of private investment in infrastructure also deserves greater attention.181

As in the above case of the Clipper chip, where behind a single paragraph lay a great debate, these words have been reinforced by actions. The United States and Canada may possibly become involved in a trade war of escalating restrictions to cross-border trade in cultural content, as a result of some of the CRTC's regulation and administrative decisions in this regard.182

Notwithstanding the self-interest of the United States in having international barriers to its own ubiquitous entertainment media dismantled, the IITF is likely correct in arguing for the global nature of the information revolution:

Although national regulatory environments necessarily reflect the specific social, economic, and political needs of each individual country, the essentially global nature of the markets for telecommunications, information technologies, and information services require that national regulations be responsive to global developments.183

Borders are virtually transparent to the transmission of information. If a telephone cable or, increasingly, a satellite signal can cross the border, regulatory protection on both sides is severely undermined. The protection is fundamentally contingent on the existence of a reasonably identifiable and boundable physical area within which to regulate. Yet, location, position, and jurisdiction are all are irrelevant in the new paradigm because, as William Gibson wrote years ago, "There's no there, there. They taught that to children, explaining cyberspace."184 It's time to inform Canadian and European would-be regulators of this new reality. The everywhere-but-nowhere nature of information is particularly apparent in the Internet model, and it will undoubtedly prove of great benefit to users of the GII and of much frustration to culturally-nurturing countries such as Canada, Australia, and some members of the European Union.

Canada is the country most at odds with the United States on this issue. Consider that the second objective guiding the Canadian effort--that is, one of the primary guiding principles in the shadow of which all further recommendation will be formulated--is to "reinforce Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity."185 The chance of Canada compromising with the U.S. on this point of contention is clearly negligible, given its entrenchment at this level of priority. However, that seems to be the most reasonable course of action, notwithstanding the surveyed opinion of the majority of Canadians. Why would Canada choose an alternative, and adopt policies that the nature of the medium will prove irrelevant, and that the United States will consider trade barriers against which to retaliate? The answer is, of course, in order to protect Canadian cultural identity.

Yet, consider that even Australia, the country which composed the earlier quotation extolling the virtues of cultural identity, has recognized reality and has chosen to adopt a position that complements it, rather than opposes it as Canada has chosen to do:

...The lesson [of Australian history] is that, so long as we are assured about the value of our own heritage and talents, we have nothing to fear from being open to other cultural influences. ...

...The measures we have taken in this cultural policy are substantially designed to meet this challenge, and ensure that what used to be called a cultural desert does not become a sea of globalised and homogenised mediocrity.

That is why we must address the information revolution and the new media not with fear and loathing, but with imagination and wit. We have to see the extraordinary opportunities for enjoyment and creativity it contains. We have to embrace it..., recognising that we can turn the remarkable power of this new technology to a democratic and creative cultural purpose. It can inform us and enrich us. It can generate new realms of creative opportunity. We have to engage with it and put the stamp of Australia on it. That is the principal reason why the Government this year linked the portfolios of Communications and the Arts, and why a significant part of this document is concerned with the revolution that is already changing our lives.

...By shoring up our heritage in new or expanded national institutions and adapting technology to its preservation and dissemination, by creating new avenues for artistic and intellectual growth and expression and by supporting our artists and writers, we enable ourselves to ride the wave of global change in a way that safeguards and promotes our national culture.186

This is the solution that Canada's Advisory Council and the new European High Level Group of Experts would be well-advised to carefully consider adopting. The goal, in essence, is to increase the ratio of domestic cultural content to foreign cultural content within the country. There are two ways of achieving it. The first is to protect the entry of foreign content. This method does not enhance the absolute value of indigenous culture, but merely increases its relative concentration. The second strategy is to allow foreign cultural content entry, and direct substantial effort to developing and creating domestic cultural content. Both the quality and quantity of domestic culture are by this method increased.

The latter strategy is that espoused by Australia. It is also supported by Canada, but IHAC seems primarily in favour of restrictive regulation.187 The lessons learned from the Internet, the valid argument of the U.S. IITF, and the position adopted by Australia all point toward abandoning restrictions and focusing attention entirely on supporting the Canadian cultural industry. This approach recognizes the difficulties of the new information paradigm, avoids the futility of attempting an impossible strategy, and exploits the nature of an interactive infrastructure to the benefit of Canada's cultural health. The debate over cultural protection is not going to be decided by political wrangling between the governments or regulators of the United States and protective regions like Canada, Europe, and Australia. Rather, it will be determined by technology. Canada may stubbornly oppose the influence of American culture, but it cannot oppose the impact of powerful information and communication technologies.


C. Conclusion

This article has shown how government organizations around the world are trying to design policy frameworks to accomodate the blindingly fast development of information technology. The enormity of the effort is matched only by the complexity of its subject. It is perhaps possible that governments are deluding themselves into thinking they have the power to control something as diverse, adaptive, and ubiquitous as information technology. Nonetheless, by assessing the strategies which they have committed to writing, one may glean lessons about both the serious implications of technology for global society and the different approaches of government to dealing with broad public policy issues.

Four regions have produced comprehensive reports outlining their visions in the form of goals, principles, and conceptual foundations. Each has unique characteristics, including a particular perspective on how to go about building an advanced information infrastructure, certain domestic obstacles that must be overcome to facilitate success, and a strategy for motivating its citizens and industry into taking the opportunities soon to present themselves. The approaches may be assessed on two levels. The first evaluates the content of the report, seeking to establish how well it deals with the important issues and problems that face all jurisdictions, and with those that affect itself in particular. The second level considers the methodology of production of the report, and this may lead to a more accurate conclusion as to the viability of the strategy than will with first level evaluation.

Regarding the latter mode of assessment, there are significant differences among the various reports. Each has a unique strategy for formulating and presenting its substantive position. In some reports, such as those of the U.S., Canada, and Japan's MITI, the arrangement of ideas and recommendations succeeds in imparting to the reader the impression that the document has been produced with care and attention. On the other hand, the reports of the European Commission and Japan's MPT convey a distinctly haphazard and disorganized approach. The relative quality of the substantive strategies mirrors these differences.

With respect to substantive strategy, the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada do not differ greatly, save for the issue of protection of cultural content. Even culture, the sole area of considerable dispute, will likely be treated similarly by the four jurisdictions when the dust finally settles. There is no other viable alternative when dealing with powerful communication technologies. It is truly technology, and not politics, that will lead the way in what Arthur C. Clarke calls "the struggle for information."

That struggle, however, has been ongoing for decades, even centuries. In recent history, it has been exemplified by the Internet. Its powerful communication technology has time after time defeated political policies seeking to control the flow of information and the proliferation of certain technological tools, such as encryption. The failure of almost all the reports to recognize this reality, and to deal with the questions it poses for the potential of effective government planning activity, is highly unfortunate. There may yet be difficulties which will arise that could have been foreseen, but for this circumstance.

Perhaps the explanation is that governments feel a need to attempt to exercise power over technology, to treat it as a threat to their ability to implement policy initiatives for the benefit of their citizens. The Australian position on cultural protection has much wisdom to offer as a rejoinder to such fears. Rather than oppose the onslaught of technological development, a government can learn to exploit it, enlisting its assistance toward effective and efficient achievement of public policy. As one author has written: "Our fear of technology is really a fear of empowerment. We now have the ability to design the reality we live in, and we have to step up to the occasion."188



Notes

1 RCA advertisement, 1995. See, for example, February 1995 Wired (3.02) 10.

2 "ftp://nic.merit.edu/nsfnet/statistics/history.hosts", 13 February 1995. "It" is of course the Internet, here forming the basis of an analogy to the much heralded "information highway." As of this writing, the last verifiable figures set out that in January 1995 there were approximately 4,852,000 host computers on the Internet. Based on its rate of growth, which resulted in one million more hosts in January than in October of the previous year, a conservative estimate of the current number would be upwards of five million. The basis of the factor of ten to estimate the number of users is "Tony Rutkowski, Executive Director of the Internet Society, [who] says that a commonly used method of estimating the total number of Internet users is to multiply the number of host computers by 10."

3 Throughout the article, use of the generic term "information technology" is for convenience only, and it is appropriate to understand it to mean "information, communication, and computer technology."

4 Each of the terms listed in this paragraph adequately delineates the subject of discussion. To introduce yet another term could lead only to confusion, and to choose one from among these for consistent use may also confuse. Therefore, these terms will be used interchangeably throughout this article, yet appropriately in specific contexts, to concisely refer to the entirety of future use of information technology in the form envisaged by these jurisdictions.

5 Canada, Industry Canada, "The Canadian Information Highway: Building Canada's Information and Communications Infrastructure," Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications Sector, April 1994 at Introduction. Also available at "http://debra.dgbt.doc.ca/info-highway/rpt-fnl.txt". [Hereinafter, "CIH."]

6 United States, Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, "The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action," September 1993. Also available at "http://ntiaunix1.ntia.doc.gov:70/0/papers/documents/nii_agenda_for_action.txt". [Hereinafter, "NII."]

7 United States, Information Infrastructure Task Force, "The Global Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Cooperation," February 1995, Version 1.0. Also available at "http:// ntiaunix1.ntia.doc.gov:70/1s/- papers/documents/giiagend.txt". [Hereinafter, "GII."]

8 The Commission of the European Communities, "Europe's Way to the Information Society: An Action Plan," Com (94) 347 final, 19 July 1994, Brussels. A Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament and to the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions. Also available at "http://www.echo.lu/eudocs/en/com-asc.html". [Hereinafter, "Europe's Way."]

9 Japan, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, "Program for Advanced Information Infrastructure," May 1994. Also available at "http://www.glocom.ac.jp/NEWS/MITI-doc.html". [Hereinafter, "MITI."]

10 Japan, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Telecommunications Council, "Reforms toward the Intellectually Creative Society of the 21st Century: Program for the Establishment of High-Performance Info-Communications Infrastructure," 22 July 1994, version 1, unofficial and tentative translation (of original report dated 31 May 1994). Also available at "http://www.mpt.go.jp:80/Report/Report1993No5/contents.html". [Hereinafter, "MPT."]

11 Other countries are similarly engaged, but have been excluded from this study. See infra notes 14-27 and accompanying text.

12 I have endeavoured to provide the standard Internet citation in the form of a URL address or FTP filename, as appropriate, for every source of this kind. Regrettably, the nature of the medium is such that conventional citation information, including pagination, was not universally available.

13 Cybersmith, a Boston cafť that provides computers with access to the Internet, even goes so far as to bill itself as "the future." See S. Houpt, "Au lait on-line," 22 April 1995 The Globe and Mail C17.

14 Direct citation information is unavailable, but the date is included in the Introduction to Singapore, "IT2000 Action Plan--From Vision To Reality," [date unavailable]. Available at "http://www.ncb.gov.sg/it2kact/intro.html".

15 Ibid.

16 See "http://www.ncb.gov.sg/it2k/it2k.html".

17 For further information about Singapore's plans for the future, visit the government's website or see S. Sandfort, "The Intelligent Island?" April 1993 Wired (1.4). Also available at "http://www.ncb.gov.sg/ it2k/wired.html".

18 United Kingdom, CCTA, "Information Superhighways: Opportunities for public sector applications in the United Kingdom," May 1994. Also available at "ftp://ftp.demon.co.uk/pub/doc/ccta/ Report1-UKgovt-InfoSuperhighway.txt".

19 Australia, Australian Science and Technology Council, "The Networked Nation," 1994. Also available at "http://astec.gov.au/astec/net_nation/contents.html". [Hereinafter, "ASTEC."] Australia, "Creative Nation: Commonwealth Cultural Policy," October 1994. Also available at "http://www.nla.gov.au/creative.nation/contents.html". [Hereinafter, "Creative Nation."]

20 Australia, Department of Finance, Report of the Minister of Finance's Information Technology Review Group, "Clients First: The Challenge for Government Information Technology," 1 March 1995 at "Terms of Reference of the Review." Also available at "http://www.nla.gov.au/finance/itreview/final/ itrg-tc.html". [Hereinafter, "ITRG Report."]

21 ITRG Report, supra note 20 at preface letter to the Minister by Dr. Ian Reinecke, Convenor of the ITRG and Chair of the Queensland Information Policy Board.

22 Ibid. at "Terms of Reference of the Review." They are as follows:

2. to identify and assess recent State government and overseas initiatives in the provision of computing services by government agencies with particular reference to any initiatives to secure economies of scale by adopting a "whole of government" approach;
3. to assess the applicability of these approaches in the Commonwealth and to identify and document options including possible consolidation of mainframe sites, rationalising support structures, outsourcing computing services;
4. to report to the Minister for Finance by the end of February.

23 Creative Nation, supra note 19.

24 Cutler & Company, a report for the Department of Industry Science and Technology, CSIRO, and the Broadband Services Expert Group, "Commerce in Content: Building Australia's International Future in Interactive Multimedia Markets," September 1994. Also available at "http://www.nla.gov.au/misc/cutler/ cutlercp.html".

25 ASTEC, supra note 19.

26 Broadband Services Expert Group, Interim Report, "Networking Australia's Future," July 1994. Also available at "http://www.telstra.com.au/mirror/bseg/start.html". The Final Report has been completed, but, despite my efforts, its shifting location on the Internet has prevented me from obtaining it.

27 Employment and Skills Formation Council, National Board of Employment, Education and Training, "Converging Communications and Computer Technologies: Implications for Australia's Future Employment and Skills," Discussion Paper, call for formal submissions. The deadline is April 28, 1995. Also available at "http://www.nla.gov.au/misc/nbeetrep.html".

28 AT&T series of advertisements, 1994. For further information, visit "http://youwill.com".

29 NII, supra note 6 at Tab B, Section V, Number 5.

30 But not the last such struggle. See infra note 161 and accompanying text.

31 D. Wisebrod, "Controlling the Uncontrollable: Regulating the Internet," (1995) 4 MCLR 331 at 343-350. An updated version of this paper can be viewed here.

32 GII, supra note 7 at Preface states that the five principles proposed by Vice President Gore to be the foundation of the GII were incorporated into the "Buenos Aires Declaration on Global Telecommunication Development for the 21st Century." The Declaration was made at the first World Telecommunication Development Conference, in March 1994, held by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

33 Supra note 6.

34 Supra note 7.

35 NII, supra note 6 at Tab B, Section I.

36 To paraphrase the advertisements' message. See, for example, supra note 28.

37 Severely truncated, the list is of the following societal elements enhanced by information technology: education, libraries and museums, health care, (tele-)commuting, manufacturing, home-centred activity (movies, video games, shopping, banking), communication with government, communication within government.

38 NII supra note 6 at Tab B, Section II.

39 Ibid. at Tab B, Section II.

40 Ibid. at Tab B, Section III, entitled "Need for Government Action To Complement Private Sector Leadership"; Section IV, entitled "Managing Change/ Forging Partnerships"; and Section V, entitled "Principles and Goals for Government Action."

41 Ibid. at Tab B, Section III.

42 Ibid. at Tab B, Section V, Number 1.

43 Ibid. at Tab B, Section V, Number 2.

44 Ibid. at Tab B, Section V, Number 7. There are two reasons that copyright is the most important of the various intellectual property protection systems with respect to the information highway, and almost exclusively dealt with in all of the reports. First, the content of the networks is recognized as the driving force behind its success. The transmission network may be in place, but if there's nothing on it, no one will use it. The content is largely comprised of works such as computer software, multimedia applications, digital text, media programming, etc.--in a word, data. Data is protected primarily by copyright, not by patent, trademark, trade secret, or other regimes. Second, while information technology will lead to explosive growth in data industries, it also has the negative effect of facilitating the illegal copying of protected works. One fear is that the apprehension of this adverse potential of technology will slow, or altogether prevent, content producers from participating in the information infrastructure, thereby restricting its economic potential. Thus, allegiance to the defence of copyright is universal.

45 Ibid. at Tab B, Section V, Number 9.

46 Ibid. at Tab B, Section V, Number 8.

47 Ibid. at Tab B, Section IV. See also Tab E.

48 Ibid. at Tab B, Section V, Numbers 3-6.

49 Ibid. at Tab B, Section VI.

50 Ibid. at Tab C, introduction.

51 Ibid. at Tab C, Economic Benefits, Number 3. Emphasis added.

52 IITF Committee Report, 10 March 1995. Also available at "http://ntiaunix1.ntia.doc.gov:70/0/iitf/iitffiles/031095_iitfreport.txt". The Committee on Applications and Technology comprises Working Groups on Government Information Services, Technology Policy, and Health Information and Applications. The latter includes subgroups dealing with Telemedicine, Consumer Health Information, Standards, and Emergency Medicine. The Telecommunications Policy Committee is linked to the Legislative Drafting Task Force and comprises Working Groups on Universal Service, Reliability and Vulnerability, and International Telecommunications. The Information Policy Committee includes Working Groups on Government Information, Intellectual Property Rights, and Privacy. Finally, the NII Security Issues Forum co-ordinates issues of confidentiality, integrity, and availability across all components of the IITF.

53 See, for example, ibid.

54 Supra, note 42.

55 Supra note 7.

56 Supra note 32.

57 GII, supra note 7 at Part I, Section A.

58 Ibid. at Part II.

59 Ibid. at Part II, Section D.

60 Ibid. at Part III, Section A.

61 Ibid. at Part III, Section B.

62 Ibid. at Part IV.

63 Ibid. at Part V.

64 This background information may be found in Europe's Way, supra note 8 at Introduction.

65 M. Bangemann and the High-Level Group on the Information Society, "Recommendations to the European Council: Europe and the global information society," 26 May 1994, Brussels. Also available at "http://www.earn.net/EC/report.html". [Hereinafter, "Bangemann."]

66 Ibid.

67 Europe's Way, supra note 8.

68 Ibid. at Part I, Number 5.

69 Ibid. at Introduction.

70 Ibid. at Part III.

71 Ibid. at Introduction.

72 Ibid.

73 Ibid. at Part III.

74 Ibid.

75 Ibid. The language in the respective four sections illustrates the hesitancy with which the Commission is entering its information society. Overwhelmingly, the activity to be taken on the issues involves further assessment and anticipation of further studies.

76 Ibid. at Part I.

77 Ibid. at Part II.

78 MITI, supra note 9.

79 MPT, supra note 10.

80 B. Johnstone, "Turf Wars," June 1994 Wired (2.06) 64.

81 Ibid. at 65.

82 MITI, supra note 9 at Preface.

83 Johnstone, supra note 80 at 65.

84 Though, admittedly, this may be a mere curtain behind which government plans to take a much larger role in the development of the information highway. See, for example, the discussion of the United States, supra notes 29-31 and accompanying text.

85 MPT, supra note 10 at Introduction.

86 Ibid. at Section 1, Number 1(1).

87 Ibid. at Section 1, Number 1(2).

88 Ibid. at Section 1, Number 3(2).

89 Ibid. at Section 1, Number 3(1), and accompanying diagram.

90 Ibid. at Section 4, Number 1.

91 See above discussion of MPT's objectives.

92 Including offices, corporate manufacturing systems, business transactions and product development, and research.

93 Including diversified choice, new services, and information sending. The latter refers to an increase in information sending from the home, as opposed to the mere receipt of information. This is also known as "upstream data flow."

94 Including education, research, medical and welfare services, administration, and libraries.

95 MITI, supra note 9 at Preface.

96 Ibid. at Chapter 1, Section A.

97 Ibid. at Chapter 1, Supplement, Section B. Section A consists of a note on the technical development of telecommunications infrastructures. "Broadband" denotes high-speed, high-capacity means of transmission, and "one- and/or two-way" refers to the direction(s) of broadband capability. Often, transmission to the user is called "downstream data flow" and transmission from the user is called "upstream data flow."

98 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 1, Section [1].

99 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [1](2)(A).

100 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [3](1)(B).

101 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [1](2)(A).

102 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [3](1)(B).

103 For example, direct intervention is necessary to enable paperless accounting and transactions, government offices, medical prescriptions, and contracts of sale.

104 MITI, supra note 9 at Chapter 2, Part 3.

105 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 4.

106 Ibid. First, to increase the supply of multimedia, eight Multimedia Centers will be established in named locations to provide equipment, foster creative personnel, and increasing "image information literacy." Second, to support software development, ten specified measures have been adopted. Finally, database development will be cultivated by, among other programs, converting government information into electronic form, improving access by users, and providing tax and financing incentives.

107 Ibid. at Preface.

108 CIH, April, supra note 5.

109 See supra notes 42-48 and accompanying text.

110 See supra note 76 and accompanying text.

111 See supra notes 83-89 and accompanying text.

112 See supra notes 90-107 and accompanying text.

113 A number of these working groups have produced complete documents of their own, dealing in relatively more depth with a small number of the fifteen identified issues. None of these papers are discussed here in depth, their level of detail placing them beyond the scope of this paper, but they are important evidence of the progress being made by the Canadian effort, and they demonstrate the seriousness with which IHAC is treating its mandate. The three documents are:

114 CIH, supra note 5 at Introduction. Numbering added for ease of reference.

115 Canada, Industry Canada, IHAC, "Canada's Information Highway: Building Canada's Information and Communications Infrastructure--Providing New Dimensions for Learning, Creativity and Entrepreneurship," November 1994 at Section 1. Also available at "http://debra.dgbt.doc.ca/- info-highway/progress-report/[pick a format]". [Hereinafter, "Progress Report."]

116 See supra note 75 and accompanying text.

117 See supra notes 86-87 and accompanying text.

118 CIH, supra note 5 at Section 1.3.

119 Ibid. at Section 2.1.

120 Ibid. at Sections 2.1 and 2.2.

121 Ibid. at Sections 2.4 and 2.5.

122 Ibid. at Section 3.

123 Progress Report, supra note 115.

124 The most recent available as of this writing are the minutes of the February 22 and 23, 1995 meeting. IHAC, Summary of Meeting, 22-23 February 1995, Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. Also available at "http://debra.dgbt.doc.ca/info-highway/february/[pick a format]". [Hereinafter, "February minutes."]

125 CIH, supra note 5 at Section 4.1.

126 Information in this paragraph is drawn from IHAC's Progress Report, supra note 115 at Section 3, Issues 1-5.

127 CIH, supra note 5 at Section 4.2.

128 John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an American electronic rights advocacy organization, has been quoted as saying: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." (H. Rheingold, "Why Censoring Cyberspace is Futile" May 1/94 Computer Underground Digest v. 6 no. 39.) See, for example, the discussions of the Homolka information ban, the Clipper chip, and the difficulty of civil litigation on the Internet, in D. Wisebrod, supra note 31 at 339-353.

129 Copyright, supra note 113.

130 February minutes, supra note 124 at Issue 8 (1st reading).

131 Information in this paragraph is drawn from IHAC's Progress Report, supra note 115 at Section 3, Issues 6-10.

132 Ibid. at Section 2.

133 One must admire the perseverence of the members of the Advisory Council. To recognize the goal, and subsequently debate how best to achieve it, in the face of mounting evidence that it may not even be possible to do so, is surely a demonstration of their complete patriotism. On the other hand, it may also correctly be interpreted as a clear example of IHAC's ignorance, or at the very least misunderstanding, of the world in which they are operating--one in which entire borders fall with the crossing of a single fibre optic strand. See the discussion of jurisdiction, and William Gibson's pithy statement, infra note 184 and accompanying text: "There's no there, there."

134 February minutes, supra note 124 at Issue 7 (2nd reading).

135 Ibid.

136 Ibid.

137 See infra notes 172-187 and accompanying text.

138 CIH, supra note 5 at Section 4.3.

139 February minutes, supra note 124 at Issue 11 (2nd reading).

140 Information in this paragraph is drawn from IHAC's Progress Report, supra note 115 at Section 3, Issues 11-15.

141 Supra note 58.

142 Supra note 114. Emphasis added.

143 The Working Group on Competitiveness and Job Creation is focusing on defining this new role. Progress Report, supra note 115 at Section 3, Issue 2.

144 H.N. Janisch, "In Search of Common Themes in an Apparently Confused Regulatory World," 4 MCLR 259 at 270.

145 See supra notes 78-82 and accompanying text.

146 See supra note 59, infra note 188, and accompanying text.

147 See infra note 175.

148 Arthur C. Clarke, science writer. Quoted by Stentor, "Quotable Quotes and Amusing Musings on the Information Highway," The Beacon Initiative website. Available at "http://www.stentor.ca/basie/infoway/ beacon/150e(94-09).html".

149 Esther Dyson, quoted in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's files. Available at "ftp:\\eff.org\eff\ quotes.eff".

150 B. Sterling, "Internet," February 1993 The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Science Column #5 (available in electronic form as "A short history of the Internet").

151 See supra note 2 and accompanying text.

152 J. Greenwald, "Battle for Remote Control," Spring 1995 Time 71 at 72.

153 Dr. Andrew Bjerring, president of the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE). Quoted by W. Cukier, "Internet pioneers worry that hawkers are taking over," 22 March 1994 The Globe and Mail C4.

154 GII, supra note 7 at "Introduction," Section B.

155 NII, supra note 6 at Issue 9.

156 Ibid. at Tab C, "Research," Number 3.

157 Ibid. at Tab C, "Lifelong Learning."

158 The CIH discussion paper, supra note 5, cites the use by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) of the Internet for collaborative research and education (Section 2.2). In two places, it refers to the SchoolNet project linking schools across Canada to each other and to the Internet (Sections 2.2 and 3.1, respectively). The use of the Internet for the distribution of government information is cited at Section 2.2). Finally, the CANARIE plan to upgrade to a high-speed connection to the Internet is cited at Section 3.1 and in the Progress Report, supra note 115 at Section 2.

159 Ibid. at Section 3.1.

160 Ibid. at Section 4.2, Issue 8.

161 A myriad of activist organizations, lobby groups, mailing lists, and discussion fora exists in support of the right to this ability. Most recently, they are appearing in opposition to the infamous Communications Decency Act of 1995, in the United States. As of April 1995 the Act, which would place restrictions on the nature of content communicated electronically, has been incorporated as section 223 in the United States Senate Bill 652.

162 Progress Report, supra note 115 at Issue 8.

163 February minutes, supra note 124 at Issue 8 (1st reading).

164 Europe's Way, supra note 8 at Part II, Number 2.

165 MPT, supra note 10 at Section 2, Number 1(3)(b).

166 Supra notes 95-97 and accompanying text.

167 MITI, supra note 9 at Chapter 1, Part 1, Section [3](3)(A).

168 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [1](2)(B).

169 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [2](2)(B). In addition, existing use of the Internet by Japan's research sector is cited with approval at Chapter 1, Part 1, Section [2](4)(A).

170 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 2, Section [4](2)(A).

171 Ibid. at Chapter 2, Part 3, Section [2].

172 Similarly, it has been observed that within each country, no one company can build the infrastructure: "Cooperation is a necessity, because no single company has the resources to build, program and operate anything as complex as an information highway." Greenwald, supra note 152 at 72.

173 Supra note 7.

174 Creative Nation, supra note 19 at Introduction.

175 I have excluded Japan from this discussion because its perspective on culture does not emerge from the same understandings as the other jurisdictions. Rather than concern over protecting domestic culture from outside influence, or removing barriers to the exportation of culture, MPT (MITI does not deal with the issue) desires "to achieve the free circulation of information at home and abroad in order to strongly promote the transparency of Japanese society and to build a Japan that is open to the world." (MPT, supra note 10 at Introduction.) Japan is concerned about "Promoting Mutual Understanding:" "It is important for Japan to ensure that its ideas and their cultural contexts are fully and clearly communicated to foreign observers and that the cultures of foreign countries are also properly understood in Japan." (MPT, Section 1, Number 1(2)(b).)

176 Creative Nation, supra note 19 at Introduction. Emphasis added.

177 G. Rowan, "Canadians fear info highway a threat to culture," 20 April 1995 The Globe and Mail B1..2.

178 See supra notes 132-137 and accompanying text.

179 Statutes of Canada 1991, chapter 1, proclaimed in force on June 4, 1991. Consolidated as R.S.C. 1985, c.B-9.01. Amended 1993, c.38, ss.81 and 82, proclaimed in force October 25, 1993. Subsection 5(1) states:

5. (1) Objects.--Subject to this Act and the Radiocommunications Act and to any directions to the Commission [CRTC, see s. 2(1)] issued by the Governor in Council under this Act, the Commission shall regulate and supervise all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system with a view to implementing the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1)...

Subsections 3(1)(a) and (b) state:

3. (1) Declaration.--It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that
(a) the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians;
(b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty; ...

180 Europe's Way, supra note 8 at Part III.

181 GII, supra note 7 at Part II, Section B.

182 See, for example, CRTC Decision No. 1994-284, 6 June 1994 which granted a license to "The Country Network" (TCN) to begin broadcasting, subject to conditions, and decided the following, inter alia:

The licensee [TCN] requested the CRTC to delete Country Music Television (CMT) a competitive U.S. service currently on the list of eligible satellite services. This list has been revised in PN 1994-61 and 1994-61-1 (reported in Part A of this issue) so as to allow cable licensees to continue distributing CMT only until TCN's service first becomes available for distribution.

183 GII, supra note 7 at Part II, Section E.

184 W. Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive (New York: Bantam, 1988) at 48. Emphasis original.

185 CIH, supra note 5 at Introduction.

186 Creative Nation, supra note 19 at Introduction. Emphasis added.

187 See supra notes 131-137 and accompanying text.

188 Douglas Rushkoff, author of CYBERIA, 1994. Quoted in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's files, supra note 149.


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