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The ‘new ladder’ of tech regulation

Ross Storey | May 18, 2011
A key United Nations body has put world governments on notice about how crucial is information and communications technology (ICT), to every country’s economic, social and political growth.

The report states that effective regulation has become crucial to economic growth across all sectors, and two broad themes have emerged; the ubiquity of ICTs, and the critical role of telecom/ICT regulators in creating an enabling digital environment.
“From climate change to health, to education and personal security; no discussion of major social issues is complete without close examination of the role of ICTs in creating, managing, and resolving these issues,” the report states.

Climate change
“Because ICTs touch all aspects of society, when setting sound policies and regulation the link between ICTs and major social issues like climate change, economic growth and digital lifestyles has to be taken into account,” said Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s telecommunication development bureau. “More than ever, it is vital to consider the appropriate scope of the ICT regulator’s mandate in creating an enabling digital world, a world where no citizen should be left out of the digital society.”

But how are Asia governments – particularly those in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore – meeting the ITU’s best practice standards?

Key pointers to the thinking of the government of the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region (HKSAR) were revealed in a late-March presentation, by the acting secretary for commerce and economic development, Gregory So, to the Special Meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee, on the policy areas of communications and technology. In an update of Hong Kong’s Digital 21 strategy, So told the committee that the government’s estimated non-recurrent expenditure of computerisation in 2011-12, amounted to HK$1.74 billion (US$575.11 million) - 45 per cent above the revised estimate of HK$1.2 billion (US$396.7 million) in this financial year. 

“I believe the increased provision will create a lot of new business opportunities to the IT industry, and the estimated expenditure of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) will also increase by 14 per cent,” he said.
So also outlined the HK government’s commitment to cloud computing.

Cloud commitment
He stated that, over the next five years, “We will adopt the cloud computing model to re-provision the government’s central IT infrastructure and services, enhance the overall agility of the government’s IT capabilities and services, enhance operational efficiencies, reduce costs and reduce the government’s carbon footprint and environmental impact”. 

He said Hong Kong’s office of the government CIO (OGCIO) has formulated a pan-government IT strategy which sets out the major programmes to facilitate the transition to cloud computing.


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