ICC India hosts meetings on challenges facing information society

  • 2 October 2006

The setting is India, one of the world's most populous countries and most rapidly expanding information technologies and telecommunications markets. So naturally the discourse is on IT and the Internet, and what business needs to continue playing a key role in shaping an information society that reaches an ever-increasing number of the world's 6.6 billion citizens.

ICC hosted business executives from around the world on 18-20 September for a meeting of ICC’s Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms (EBITT) and the first meeting of Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) – a new ICC initiative to communicate business priorities and experience on information society issues. The meetings were followed by a conference that brought in government representatives from India to share experience on what it takes to build an inclusive and global information society.

Participants addressed a gamut of issues due to be discussed in several forums which have been established since the second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis last year.

Such forums were created to ensure a continued dialogue among business, governments, civil society and technical community experts on a range of initiatives – from creating an environment to promote safe and secure use of the Internet, to the integration of in information and communications technologies (ICTs) as tools for economic growth and social development. The next event will be the first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens in October 2006.

BASIS will represent business in upcoming forums and discussions with governments and intergovernmental bodies. BASIS aims to stress the importance of creating the necessary frameworks to spur continued investment and innovation by business in ICTs and the critical role of partnerships to diffuse ICTs in the developing world.

“Business must participate in these forums, to ensure future policies are pro-competition, investment-friendly, encourage entrepreneurship and facilitate the development of ICT training and education,” said BASIS and EBITT Chair, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, who is also Chairman of TAGI International.
The EBITT commission isolated the following key issues:

Speaking during the opening of the conference, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on Information Society Issues Nitin Desai, who is also Chair of the IGF advisory group, noted:
“E-government and public service applications will drive much of Internet use and e-commerce will take longer in countries like India because it is not a credit card culture.”

“The prime opportunities for business are in innovation at the edges. Business is critical to the further development of innovative applications and technologies, and governments need to keep the system open to a maximum with the lowest possible barriers because we simply don’t know what will work,” he said. “At the international level, focus should be on public policy issues in limited areas where government cooperation is necessary, such as cybercrime.”

Business executives and Indian government officials exchanged experiences in several key areas including, complying with the increasingly complex and conflicting demands for various types of data; legal, policy, regulatory and technical options regarding privacy and security issues and Internet connection costs and policies.

Raju Vegesna, Chairman, Managing Director and CEO of Sify Limited, a leading Indian network and Internet services provider, reflected on the enormous intellectual capital in countries like India. He said: “For countries like India to meet their true potential, governments need farsighted policies to foster a rapid transition to an Information Society. The Internet is transforming economies and adding to the real income of households around the world. It is also transforming countries like India through its impact on literacy, healthcare, e-governance and access to global markets for exports. To continue this growth, policies spanning the regulatory and legal environment are needed to promote access, content, data protection, security and all the issues related to the growth of Internet.”

“While a lot has been achieved in the area of telecom liberalization, there is much more to be done to foster an Information Society in countries like India,” he added.