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Assessing the socio-economic impact of the Information Society

The FAIR project, part of the Community's specific RTD programme in the field of Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS), has recently completed a major, Europe-wide analysis of the socio-economic impact of the Information Society.

The study finds that, as th...
The FAIR project, part of the Community's specific RTD programme in the field of Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS), has recently completed a major, Europe-wide analysis of the socio-economic impact of the Information Society.

The study finds that, as the Information Society gains momentum, the pace of technical innovation and the creation of a regulatory framework are proceeding more rapidly than other necessary social and economic changes. This creates the imminent danger of excluding people, regions and segments of Europe's population, if the appropriate measures are not taken.

According to FAIR, in the most predictable scenario, the market will continue to be held - probably until at least 2003 - by today's technology and infrastructure leaders, who will focus their services on the more profitable, higher-income users and the most-developed economic regions. In order to ensure the best chance of balanced economic growth and the reduction of social exclusion, the project recommends its "Virtual Community Renaissance" scenario. This approach calls for full market liberalization through widespread and open access to infrastructures and services, with a variety of service and content providers from all sectors.

The FAIR analysis highlights a number of critical factors to building a balanced social and economic growth pattern for the Information Society in Europe. These include:

- Rapid and harmonized liberalization across Europe's telecom markets;
- Increasing European content and software;
- Rapid development of European "copyright industries" (computer software, motion picture, audio-visual and publishing);
- Ensuring affordable access for all, in particular by allowing public Internet access via community and public access points and stimulating the distribution of information and communication services;
- Managing intellectual property protection;
- Assessing the social and cultural impact of new ways of working, and of social interchange using the new services;
- Tackling privacy and network security issues and building trust among commercial users.

The FAIR project has published some 31 working papers which examine such major socio-economic issues as: employment and new job creation, universal service and consumer aspects, sustainable development, and regional development in the Information Society. Every year FAIR publishes its Main Report, which presents a scenario of developments and trends.

Source: European Commission, ISPO

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