M. David Johnston

Former Chair, Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC), Canada



Ms Deborah Hurley of the Information Infrastructure Project, Harvard University introduced Mr David Johnston, former chairman, Information Highway Advisory Council ("IHAC"), Canada. Mr Johnston said he was pleased with Mr Manleys's speech and welcomed the diversity that the GILC conference brings. "Change, choice and challenge" are the important words in the information age said Mr Johnston.

According to Mr Johnston the information revolution provides us with a new set of tools and in long distance communication we witness the death of distance.

Mr Johnston questioned how to find an appropriate balance within the society and dealt in his paper with the issues of accessibility, learning, innovation, the role of trust, privacy and security, content and health.

Mr. Johnston firmly restated his belief that the information highway should be as accessible as possible, like telephone and television sets. "The connection to the Internet is one step and the next step is get into the schools and classrooms. Recycling computers would help as 4-5 years old computers are perfectly capable of helping achieve this end." Perhaps the greatest challenge is to develop content for school children "to exercise their critical thinking". According to Mr Johnston "we need to establish an environment where innovation can thrive, which recognizes that ideas and innovation are keys to wealth creation and institutional adoption, where change is not feared and strangled." Also governments are challenged to adopt themselves in the information age and better understanding of the new technologies are needed.

Canadian law is based on both the civil and common law, and "civil law jurisdictions have long seen individual privacy as a fundamental right. Sensible solutions are needed for privacy and security in the information age. The gaps can be filled with self-regulatory solutions in the private sphere said Mr Johnston. But there are still "plenty of businesses who are not prepared to play by these voluntary rules or there are those who exploit the gaps." Trust is therefore "at the base of law reform to deal with electronic commerce" said Mr Johnston.

"The Public Voice in the Development of Internet Policy"

October 7, 1998

Global Internet Liberty Campaign