LAST week in Ottawa, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in a special conference on E-commerce, pledged a light touch on the Internet, in terms of government regulation. The conference endorsed a go-slow approach that allows for liberal doses of self-regulation by the industry.
This approach is precisely what software and Internet corporations want.
Many proponents take the view, that, unfettered by government regulations, E-commerce will be the engine of global economic growth in the 21st century.
They believe that it will make commercial transactions so efficient that costs will drop and productivity will grow.
Physical distance and international borders will become meaningless, and free competition will thrive, empowering consumers and bringing them a better standard of living.
Renato Ruggiero, director-general of the World Trade Organisation, in a key-note speech clearly was convinced by these arguments. He said that new technology had the potential of producing a "massive levelling effect in the world economy; helping to bridge the economic divisions between countries and individuals by equalising access to the most important resources of the 21st century 'knowledge and ideas'".
OECD ministers listened carefully to the likes of Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM appealing for a market-led approach to the development of electronic commerce. What the industry wants is for governments to ensure that legislation does not hamper the growth in the use of technology for business, and that new rules should …