Memorandum by Mr Peter Apostolou, People-Energy
1. I do not think anything needs to be done
to create confidence and stimulate e-commerce usage. If you look
at the Annex A provided you will note that confidence is self
perpetuating as the technology is utilised more and more.
Annex A shows that the uptake and use of e-commerce
is multiplying at an exponential rate. These figures are based
on the American Internet usage being a little more advanced than
the rest of the world's. As we generally know whatever happens
in America happens over here later.
More and more people are using the Internet.
More and more people are purchasing goods over the Internet and
the Internet user profile are becoming more and more the average
profile rather than having the technical bias it used to. More
and more money is being transacted over the Internet, in the areas
of business to business and consumer.
One area that is important to confidence is
that of Secure Electronic Transactions (SET). Technology that
allows the encryption of messages on their journey across the
Internet. Obviously the more secure the Internet is the more confident
people will be of using it.
If the Internet is effective and makes things
easier people and businesses will use it more and more without
the necessity for outside intervention.
3. Will codes of conduct and co-regulation
provide sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention
by national governments and EU.
There will without a shadow of doubt be Government
intervention. We can see many ways in which e-commerce and the
Internet will change the way we work company to company, nationally
and internationally. Indeed it is the governments who I feel are
going to have a very difficult time in implementing policy as
the internet and e-commerce change very much the way we live,
communicate and transact through our daily lives. Security issues
ranging from individual to national is very big.
The American federal government has already
classified encryption technology as munitions and have stated
that they must have the keys to unlock any type of encryption.
The reasons for this are obvious in terms of national security.
I can see a time when the same will have to be done by the European
With the recent demonstrations and organisations
by groups such as "reclaim the streets" Internet security
is highlighted by the fact most of the groups organised themselves
by using the Internet. Can governments build any type of secure
infrastructure if a virus such as the "Love bug" can
create havocvery quickly through the world?
Another area is: the Internet seems to have
no regard for a national border or physical division of regions.
What implication does this have for trade, crime and other areas?
There are definite needs for a government to put in some sort
of legislation. The biggest problem is that it is very difficult
to know where to start and what else may need to be incorporated
as time goes on.
4. My immediate response to this question
is definitely not. The question I would raise is can they be flexible
enough. Unfortunately it is much easier to do things in a different
way with this medium. This allows the by-passing of much of the
bureaucracy currently involved. My feeling is that the Internet
will necessitate governments and organisations to be far more
flexible than they currently are.
I feel this is the major task faced by all organisations.
The bigger the organisation the bigger the task.
5. I am unaware of the EU's existing internal
structure in detail. However, everything to do with the EU has
the air of major bureaucracy and therefore will probably need
a major restructure. My answer would be a major yes.
6. With great difficulty! The only way is
to keep an extremely close watch on the development and have the
ability to foretell the way some things will move. Whereas this
is possible to a certain extent it is also worthwhile bearing
in mind that there are many things that right now would be almost
impossible to predict and take into account.
The Internet and e-commerce favour the less
bureaucratically involved, hence the reason why small and previously
non-existent companies) are taking a major stake in the e-commerce
Governments and large organisations have a major
job to do, there is the possibility that current methods will
become obsolete and even current organisations' existence be threatened
with the changes that are going to take place.
9 March 2000