Interoperability at the Crossroads?: The "Liberal Order" versus Fragmentation
Technical standards are an invisible but powerful form of technical regulation with legal and public policy implications, but their role in governing the global knowledge economy has been overlooked. As more content is digitized and our interactions become more dependent upon information technology, standardized interfaces can determine our ability to access knowledge and participate in many of life's activities. This panel will discuss the relevance of standards to technology policy and suggest how the U.S. should act.
Giovanni Battista Gallus, Vice President of CGT, Italian association of CyberLawyers
Brian Kahin, Senior Fellow, Computer and Communications Industry Association
John Morris, General Counsel, and Director, Internet Standards, Technology, and Public Policy, Center for Democracy and Technology
Susy Struble, Global Government Strategy Group, Sun Microsystems [cancelled due to newly scheduled surgery]
Jonathan Band, Technology Law & Policy and author of "Interfaces on Trial" [cancelled due to House IP subcommittee meeting]
Gerry Lane, Director of Open Source and Open Standards, IBM
Laura DeNardis, Executive Director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and the author of Information Technology in Theory
For Further Reading
update on its way....
Code is often indeed king, but standardized interfaces (or lack thereof) provide rules for the king's behavior.
Technical standards are an invisible but powerful form of technical regulation with legal and public policy implications for society and the global economy, but the role of these institutions in governing the global knowledge economy has been overlooked. As more content is digitized and our interactions become more dependent upon information technology, these groups can determine our ability to access knowledge and participate in many of life's activities. However, the majority of standards-setting is executed by private entities with minimal representation from important stakeholders, such as “the public,” and under rules that arguably disadvantage some parties. Combined with the economic and social power of information technology and geopolitical reality, these problems in the international standards setting process have led some to work outside the system and enabled others to exploit the process. Some still believe in its intrinsic value and are using information technology standardization in national strategies for influencing international trade, establishing innovation policy, and advancing political policies. On this score, the United States takes a relatively hands-off approach.
Standardization could be a useful tool for resolving many technology policy conflicts, improving digital inclusion and promoting technical excellence and innovation. Indeed, its use in the early stages of the “Internet revolution” as well as in other industries has driven progress and many social and economic benefits. But what's next? Can a legitimate, credible and effective governance model be created? Does interoperability matter? Are regionalization and fragmentation the certain results of failure?
This panel will discuss the unique public policy role of standards and the technological, economic, social, and legal architectures they create, describe ways in which the international standardization process is broken and how various countries and regions view standardization and are engaging (or not) on the matter, and suggest solutions, including possible roles and positions for the United States government.