Chip makers publish Internet regulation white paper

A group of associations representing the world's top semiconductor makers have called on world governments to ensure any policies and regulations in the Internet arena promote competition and are not used as excuses to further the governments' regulatory hand.

The call came in a white paper issued by the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) at its fourth meeting which took place on Friday on the Korean island of Cheju. The WSC was formed to address issues of global concern to the semiconductor industry and is made up of the European Electronic Component Manufacturers Association (EECA), the Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ), the Korean Semiconductor Industry Association (KSIA), the Semiconductor Industry Association of America (SIA) and the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA).

The white paper is a product of the WSC's Internet Task Force and will be presented to the respective governments of WSC members at a meeting planned to take place in June in Seoul. The study group was established to provide a united voice for the semiconductor industry which has seen a big boom in business thanks to the success of the Internet. The industry wants to ensure that new laws and regulations in the Internet arena don't serve to impact the growth of the Internet and in turn lead to lower demand for the chips it makes.

Chief among its recommendations is that the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) moratorium on e-commerce duties be made permanent. Any taxes that are applied to e-commerce transactions should not treat online sales any less favourably than real-world transactions, no e-commerce-specific taxes should be introduced and tax regimes should be clear and simple.

The group also recommended that efforts to control encryption products take into account the availability of such products on the world market and said it was "imperative that governments do not impose restrictions in the name of national security that actually serve to discourage or restrict the flow of information and, ultimately, interfere with trade."

Among other areas touched upon by the document, the group cautioned against the introduction of online piracy laws that are any more stringent than existing offline laws, called on governments to work with industry in development of e-signature systems, and asked that governments work to ensure current World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and WTO efforts to give intellectual property protection to electronic transmissions are successful.

A copy of the WSC Internet Policy White Paper can be found online at http://www.semichips.org/trade/wsc_whitepaper_04282000.htm .ines.

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