Memorandum by Informix Software Ltd
Headquartered in California, Informix is recognised
as the technology leader in software infrastructure for the Internet.
Informix is the first and only company to integrate e-commerce
and business intelligence on a true Internet infrastructure. It
provides a complete, fast and simple way to bring businesses to
the Web, personalise content management, and analyse informaiton
Q:What needs to be done to create confidence and
to stimulate e-commerce in Europe?
There are many factors which affect business
and consumer confidence in e-commerce. They include, for consumers:
Performance of services
Breadth of choice of services
Ease of implementation of services
Regulatory obstacles to provision
Financial incentives for provision
Access to a trusted knowledge base
The European Commission, the UK Government and
industry have the power to influence many of these factors to
improve business and consumer confidence in e-commerce. The UK
Government is taking significant steps to provide the right environment
for business and to build consumer confidence, for example:
Universal Internet access no later
All Government services online by
Cuts in Capital Gains Tax
Reduction in audit requirements for
Ability to file tax returns online
Connecting schools and libraries
through the National Grid for Learning
The European Commission recently set a clear
strategic goal for the European Union to be the most competitive
and dynamic knowledge-based economy, and recognised that small
firms will be the main engines for job creation and economic growth
However, it is not all good news:
The regulatory environments vary
across Europe, including taxation and privacy laws. Where possible,
these need to be brought into line.
The setting of the 2005 date, brought
forward from 2008, is clearly politically motivated. It will not
be achievable without significant financial investment by the
Government, together with a commitment to fundamentally alter
the structure of many government agencies and departments.
If the Government fails to demonstrate real
commitment to move forward, showing progress towards the 2005
objectives, then business and consumer confidence will suffer.
Q:Will codes of conduct and co-regulation provide
sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention by national
governments and the EU?
The Internet is an open platform, and this openness
has been one of the drivers for its widespread adoption. There
is extensive legislation in place to protect the consumer (eg
data protection act, trading standards, etc.) and e-business should
be no different in this respect.
Intervention by national governments and the
EU should be kept to a minimumit should only be required
where new technologies create situations not adequately covered
by existing legislation. Examples of this are: The acceptability
of electronic signatures, covered by the Electronic Communications
Bill. Regulation of police monitoring activities that covers electronic
communications, addressed by the controversial Regulation of Investigatory
Powers (RIP) Bill.
The RIP Bill is an example where it is vitally
important to get it rightin its current form it may drive
people and business out of the UK. This is because it appears
to place the burden of proving innocence on the accused.
Q: Should existing EU institutions' internal
structures be changed, or new ones created, to improve policy
development and co-ordination?
Historically, EU policy development has been
too slow and bureaucratic. However, the UK must not operate in
isolation, so the EU institutions need to embrace all member countries'
views but in a manner that does not stifle innovation in policy
development and implementation. This will most likely require
changes in the way these bodies are set up, their criteria for
success and their accountability, so that they can be more dynamic
and forward thinking.
Q: How can structural change be brought about
fast enough to accommodate the growth of e-commerce?
Government policy is critical to the successful
implementation of structural change, in technology infrastructure,
social awareness and cultural behaviour. All aspects need to be
addressed, but perhaps the most pressing is the need for greater
support for the development of the information infrastructure
in the UK, to enable the pace of adoption of Internet services
to be accelerated.
This covers areas such as:
Accelerated deployment of high bandwidth
telecommunications services such as ADSL.
Increased competition in fixed line
telecommunications services to reduce costs.
The means by which new communications
capabilities are introduced, to avoid the problem that private
sector bids for access to these capabilities don't inadvertently
tax future usage of the service, as is happening at the moment
with the third generation mobile licence auction.
Another area the Government can address is the
encouragement of an entrepreneurial culture within the UK to speed
up the creation of innovative new businesses.
There are several ways in which this can be
achieved. Removal of unnecessary red-tape for small businesses.
Encouraging businesses to utilise the information infrastructure
to locate themselves and their employees in more diverse locations,
rather than predominantly in the south-east. Tax or other financial
incentives for businesses adopting new communications technologies.
Provision of wide ranging information services to help fledgling
organisations find the information they require to get started
and begin trading across Europe and world-wide.
The final area is that of personal development,
where a focus is needed both on developing the right skills through
our education system, and on re-training our existing people in
order to better meet the requirements of the new economy. The
Government can be the catalyst for moving the skills base forward
Providing the infrastructure for
Encouraging re-training; and
Facilitating access to training services.
19 April 2000