pedro lopez casuso on 28 Nov 2000 23:58:01 -0000

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[nettime-lat] (fwd) IT Global initiatives in latinamerica


fran, hare todo lo que pueda para divulgar la lista

por ahi se te llena la casa de machos,
digo de muchos...

segun parece, lo que importa no es saber quien es mas macho
sino quien es mas mucho...

es decir, no hay que cerrar canales sino abrirlos.

ni controlarlos desde un poder central.

hay que dejar que la informacion circule libremente de
muchos a muchos, sin muchas restricciones.


pd- esto estaba esta manhana en mi buz-on
creo que pueda ser de interes de nettime-l

-----Original Message-----
From: Mauricio Devoto []
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2000 2:08 PM
To: DigitalDivide
Subject: IT Global Initiatives in latinamerica

Dear all

An opinion on what is going on in Latinamerica

IT Global Initiatives in latinamerica: is it a dream?

by Mauricio Devoto
Director, ITCenit
 Research Center on Information Technology
BuenosAires, Argentina

prepared for ILPF´s
Jurisdiction II: Global Networks/Local Rules
San Francisco, California, 11-12 September 2000


            Just as the rest of Latin American countries, Argentina is
receiving the first rays of this new era or digital revolution. And just as
the rest of Latin America, it is adopting a passive stance, like a person
lying in the sun on the beach, without realizing that the economic future of
the country may depend on the attitude it assumes.
            Both USA and the EU are not aware of Latin American society
involvement in the digital era. In many instances, this ignorance leads to
the choosing of an incorrect approach, an approach that does not allow
governments and foreign companies to achieve successful results.
            This is why I decided to offer you a general overview of what is
going on in Latin America instead of focusing on one specific subject. This
overview will allow  you to get some awareness as regards the issues
connected to jurisdiction, and as to what is going on in "the other"

What  governments are not doing
           One of the critical points I want to draw attention to is the
lack of national or regional initiatives in the field of IT. Our main
actors, potential users and consumers still do not seem to realize they have
entered a new era that will transform our lives. Nor do our authorities and
leaders of the private sector.
Governments have an important role to play in this respect. There are many
measures that can and should be taken so as to lead our countries towards
this new society. These measures are of varied types and degrees of
importance, and should be discussed as a whole. But before investing time
and money in the study and implementation of some specific measure it is
essential that we discuss its aim and design the necessary plan. Without an
overall plan, without a strategy, no measure per se will allow us to achieve
the proposed aim.
Let me stress my point: the lack of this type of general initiatives in the
national and regional levels is leading to isolated and un-coordinated
efforts, which means we are addressing in a separate way issues that are
closely connected. Short-term problems prevent governments to realize the
important role they should play in the development of these types of

Bussines companies and NGO´s
            But I also notice that the private sector, the business
companies, the academic sector and NGO's as well, are drifting astray.
            The visible face of digital economy in Latin America are "dot
coms". Confusion is widespread. Everybody talks about electronic commerce
and dot coms, but few people have gone beyond what they read in the papers
about billions and trillions of dollars that will be negotiated in the
future. Everybody talks about portals, but few admit they have never surfed
and do not even know what portals are for. People mistake NASDAQ for digital
economy. NASDAQ rises and falls only add to this confusion.  Owing to the
sluggishness of government and of the academic sector in setting up
standards, it is the business companies themselves who explain the pros and
the legal problems that could derive from the use of new technologies, and
they do so at the same time that they try to sell their products. This,
understandably, makes people suspicious.
            I said the government has a decisive role to play, but let me
add that the private sector also has to take the initiative. It should try
to direct all new ideas pertaining to electronic commerce towards one common
center. Business companies must join forces in order to set up common
policies that allow them to anticipate those issues, and try to define their
own codes of conduct, while offering alternatives capable of lessening the
effects of a sure state regulation. Portions of their budgets should be
assigned to the building of a future that contemplates life beyond today or
beyond their next sale. Often, people are left with this sense of

The Academic sector and the "campus Syndrome"
            The academic sector does not understand the implications of the
digital era. The most noteworthy universities do not carry out research
activities. They are busy building their campuses, while in other parts of
the world they are already asking themselves what to do with them.   Worse
yet, they are ignorant of what is going on in the world. Thus they do not
get involved in discussions regarding leading issues.
            This is especially noticeable in MBA and postgraduate courses
syllabuses at schools of Law. Those schools, however, are witnessing the
timid appearance of some academic courses that deal with the birth and
development of "dot coms".
            Several problems have not been anticipated: those pertaining to
the security, privacy and confidentiality of information, what may become of
the practice of retrieving and using personal data, as well as crucial
topics associated with the Internet and its regulation.
            A general debate on these issues is still missing. And these
matters should be given priority in countries such as ours, where the
processes of deregulation and privatizations carried out these last years
have led to a great inflow of foreign capital.

The need for an interdisciplinary approach
            The idea of convergence is lacking in government, business and
academic sectors. There is no interdisciplinary research. Governments regard
digital revolution as a technological issue. Engineers and technicians work
on their own, designing and developing products in the belief that they will
be used in an ideal, free world, a world without rules and regulations.
Economists are wholly ignorant of the far-reaching effects of digital
economy. The most advanced among them prepare estimates about electronic
commerce, a type of commerce whose implications they fail to recognize.
Business administrators worry about e-marketing, but few talk about the
reinvention of business enterprises.
            Let me focus now on lawyers. Lawyers do not see beyond their
eyes. The idea of convergence has not touched them. They still have their
specializations: experts in constitutional law, in business law, in
telecommunications, in patents and trademarks, in copyright, in
administrative law, in mass media, in maritime law, in international private
law, etc. They focus their attention only on specific topics. Faced with new
challenges that arise from the Internet, they look for solutions within the
traditional regulatory framework, or try to apply, by the same token, the
solution arrived at in former court decisions. Throughout Latin America, the
associations of lawyers, of notaries public and CPA's have established
computer science committees in order to identify and study these issues as
they arise. The fact of their being called "computer science committees"
gives you an idea of the degree of development of their parent associations .
Instead of delegating the responsibilities for these topics, they relegate
them. Owing to the backwardness of these associations, and the scant number
of people involved, they have not yet been able to create subcommittees
specially oriented to the study each particular issue, as is standard
practice in ABA. We have, however, one thing in common: their committees, as
well as ours, are exclusively composed of lawyers.
            This is true, I believe, of the rest of the world. Each sector
analizes the digital phenomenon from its standpoint. Neither do universities
or other independent institutions affirm the need to create
interdisciplinary centers formed by engineers, lawyers, economists,
philosophers, business administrators, journalists, experts on communication
sciences. As regards jurisdiction, a prevalent idea is that  "one of the
things that may be new about the Internet and its relationship with
jurisdiction is the role that private ordering, private self-regulation, may
play in conjunction with a governmental framework to deal with some of the
uncertainties of applying traditional jurisdictional concepts to this new
medium". I agree with that. However, the result is that each different
sector prepares its own private project, which is looked upon suspiciously
by the rest. Private initiative loses its strength when institutions are
composed of experts trained in the isolation typical of their
specialization. Let us consider, then, how valuable interdisciplinary
committees could prove to be in this respect. This, I believe, will be the
challenge of the future.

Debating about the definition and regulation of the Internet. The
            Latin America has not yet given thought to the crucial need for
defining the nature of cyberspace. However, we, just as much as the European
Union, love regulation. Thus, we rush to regulate through legislation
whatever comes first to our attention: electronic commerce, electronic or
digital signatures.
            Nobody thinks about the distinguishing features of the new world
in which the activities to be regulated are performed. Nobody ask themselves
what cyberspace is. Nobody thinks if, when we are there, we are in some
other place altogether, or are still here, or else, whether we are here and
there, in two different places at the same time. Legislators and jurists
apply criteria from the real world in order to regulate these new realities
without asking themselves whether they should be looking for a different
approach. This practice is encouraged by the lack of an interdisciplinary
perspective. Lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers. There is the intention of
solving the very few cases about jurisdiction raised in Argentina by
applying to them traditional interpretation criteria.
            Let me tell you some of the questions we should be asking
            Was this space, as many people say, born completely free, not
bound by any rules or laws? If this were so, should it be kept free of
regulation? Is this possible or even desirable? Are there any other forms of
regulation besides laws? Isn't the very architecture of the Internet a form
of regulation? Is it advisable to avoid government regulation? Can we leave
everything to be determined by market laws, by the values that some people
decide to invest  cyberspace with? Does the non-intervention government
policy guarantee that cyberspace will always be free of regulation?
            Not finding the answer to these questions can be the cause of
certain issues losing their importance, and one or them can be that of
jurisdiction. As long as the Internet keeps losing its original values or
principles, its open source software or end-to-end architecture, as long as
the battle over the distribution of contents is lost to patents and
copyright, we will witness a stronger tendency towards the zonification of
space in order to allow for the application of local laws.
            Some time ago I read an article by David Post, "Napster,
Jefferson's Moose and the Law of Cyberspace", and this sentence remained
clearly in my mind:
            "Sadly, we, as lawyers, are often the chosen instruments for
expressing the fear, for exterminating the new in the name of serving the
old". "We need more doubt about law in cyberspace, fewer answers and more
questions, fewer fences against, and more roads to the land lying on the
other side of the Allegheny Mountains".
             But, since it 's true that, when we are there we are still
here, here we still have traditional analysis methods that may be helpful in
order to decide on the necessity, convenience and opportunity of regulation .
            The "Checklisten" technique can be useful for us in this
respect. Remember Checklisten is a technique without a purpose of its own.
Its aim is, in any case, to help the law become feasible (while it is being
drawn up and also in its subsequent application), whether it belongs to the
citizens or to the state. I will only remind you the ten simple issues
proposed by Germany's federal government. These topics are then subdivided
into subtopics:
1.      Is it really necessary to do something?
2.      Which are the alternatives?
3.      Should the federation have a hand in this?
4.      Should a law be drawn up?
5.      Is it necessary to take some measure now?
6.      Should legislation cover the foreseen scope?
7.      Can the licensing period be restricted?
8.      Does legislation share the same mind with citizens' opinions?
9.      Is legislation feasible?
10.  Is the cost-benefit ratio reasonable? Let us take a look now at the
range of alternatives: What costs will the affected people incur? Can you
impose a finantial burden such as this on the affected people? What
additional costs would be created in national, provincial and local budgets?
Were any studies made about the cost-benefit ratio? Which were the results?
After this law becomes effective, how will we measure its effectiveness and
secondary costs?

ITCenit and  a Global Initiative for Argentina:
               ITCenit, Research Center on Information Technology, was
established in 1996 with the aim of exploring the impact of digital
revolution upon the law and economy, as well as upon education and society
as a whole. Since the founders, Mr Horacio Lynch and I, both were lecturers
at different universities, we decided to talk with them so as to create this
interdisciplinary center drawing on resources from their different schools.
At that time, nobody understood what we were talking about, or even the
importance of the issues to be studied and researched. Thus, we were forced
to go ahead without their support. I can now proudly share with you that,
after four years of work, at the beginning of 2000 ITCenit, backed by the
American Embassy in Argentina, submitted a proposal for the designing of a
comprehensive initiative on IT to the Argentine government. This initiative
was called ARGENTINA DIGITAL, and it contains the aims that the government
should pursue in this matter. The government has adopted some of our
proposals, so we hope we are beginning to head in the right direction. But
there is still a lot of work to be done.

            In Latin America we do not have clearly defined policies that
join together the different elements related to the Internet and the digital
revolution. Without this type of initiatives, without a consistent debate,
without an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, electronic commerce,
as well as all related legal matters will remain as undetermined and vague
as they are today, and this will adversely affect electronic commerce in
this region.

Mauricio Devoto
ITCenit - Centro de Investigaciones en IT
Buenos Aires, Argentina
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