Society and technology: managing change

OECD Observer

The key note speaker at this session, Bernard Vergnes, Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and South Africa, delivered a message of enthusiasm about the new economy. He described Microsoft’s vision, as well as its contribution to overcoming the digital divide, within and without developed countries.

Two principle themes:

Access to new ICT technology, emphasizing work on closing the skills gap, concentrating on skilling up the disabled, the unemployed, and the technically illiterate. Mr Vergnes spoke of examples of Microsoft partnerships in the UK, Poland, Ireland and France. To a later question admitted that a Microsoft presence in the country was important springboard to partnerships, and Africa was by consequence untapped.

Regulatory environment: Appealed to government to regulate where needed, to avoid creating burdensome rules. Main areas for government attention included e-signatures (EU e-signatures directive was a good model) and privacy, crime and intellectual property protection. Even where pornography was concerned, codes of conduct and information to allow individual judgment (based on enabling filtering technologies) were preferable to rules in many areas. Mr Vergnes expressed confidence in the international organisations like OECD and its potential role as a clearing house for best practice.

Mr Vergnes foresaw ongoing rapid innovation, and an era just five years from now when users would have even more control over their Internet usage than today.

Forum 2000 OECD, CNIT, June 2000, Diderot

Moderator Christopher Brooks

©OECD Observer No 221-222, Summer 2000




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