Modern society relies heavily on information and communications. New advanced information technologies are being developed and exploited on an increasing scale by both the private and public sectors, providing new business opportunities for supplying industries as well as user industries. Governments realise that adequate action is needed to facilitate and accelerate this transition in order to benefit fully from the economic and social opportunities. Their conviction is that information infrastructures are expected to stimulate economic growth, increase productivity, create jobs, and improve the quality of life. Therefore, governments view that the developments in information infrastructures must be encouraged and supported, and existing or foreseen obstacles need to be removed. Governments themselves have an important role in adjusting the legal and regulatory frameworks. These frameworks cover a range of policy areas (employment, culture, legal, etc.), usually addressed by separate ministries and agencies. In addition, as information infrastructures are not limited by national boundaries, governments have begun to co-operate to discuss a set of common rules in order to build a global information society. Such co-operation began at the G-7 Information Society Conference, in Brussels (February 1995), and continued at the Information Society and Development Conference in South Africa (May 1996). This paper aims to provide an outline of positions adopted by, or proposed for adoption by governments on the issues of information infrastructures, as of May 1996. Reports from the following OECD countries have been examined: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The EU initiatives are expected to provide an integrated vision for the European Union countries.
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