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FS exchanged views with top ICT leaders on governments' roles in the digital world

    The Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, has called on public policymakers to create favourable and safe environments to allow the brains in the community to absorb as much knowledge as they can and innovate in the digital world.

     Mr Tang shared his views on the roles of governments in the digital world with top world leaders in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry at the opening session of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) TELECOM WORLD 2006 Forum this morning (December 4).

     The WORLD Forum is a key component of ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006, which is being held at the AsiaWorld Expo, Chek Lap Kok, from today to December 8. The forum brings together the leaders of the ICT industry and key policymakers to discuss and explore areas essential to the growth of the global ICT industry.  

     At the forum opening, Mr Tang highlighted what he believed to be the key asset in the digital world - knowledge - and the role of government in fostering its knowledge and putting in place a system to protect it.

     "Digitalisation changed the way information is processed, stored, transferred and presented, immensely improving the efficiency of such activities,กจ Mr Tang said.

     "Together with the expanding reach of the Internet and the increasing amount of content being made available on this platform, it has become far easier for people or businesses from all over the world to obtain and disseminate information.

     "But information has to be processed and internalised before it becomes knowledge. And it is the knowledge possessed by individuals or companies that would provide a competitive edge in the digital world."

     To ensure the digital world was open to all, Mr Tang pointed out that the governments had the responsibility to reduce the "digital divide" in a modern society.

     He noted that there were many people throughout the world, whether in developed or developing economies, who might be deprived of the opportunity to access information digitally and process it into knowledge.

     Mr Tang said that as well as providing additional hardware facilities to the less privileged segment of a community, investments by governments in education and training was absolutely necessary to tackle the issue through enhancing ICT adoption and knowledge building.

     On protection of intellectual property rights, Mr Tang said although knowledge was most valuable to productivity and competitiveness when it was used for the creation of information goods, the nature of information goods was such that while it might take a significant amount of matter or energy to create them, it cost practically nothing to reproduce them.  

     "This is detrimental to the innovative use of knowledge in the digital world and the problem can only be alleviated through a stringent system of intellectual property rights,กจ he said.

     "Therefore, in the digital world, another important role of government is to create robust intellectual property rights regimes to preserve the value of knowledge and protect the information goods produced by the knowledge-based industries.กจ

     Mr Tang told forum participants that the Hong Kong Government fully recognised this responsibility and had set up teams in the law enforcement agencies dedicated to tackling piracy on the Internet through round-the-clock monitoring.

     Finally, he called on governments and law enforcement agencies all over the world to join hands to protect information goods in the digital world.

     ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006, the most prestigious global ICT event, comprises two key components - a dynamic exhibition and a high-level forum.

     The forum will explore how ICT are impacting our lifestyles, how they are reshaping relations between business, and between business and the customers, and the challenges that are posted for policymakers and regulators.

     Under the central theme "Living the Digital World", the forum programme has been divided into three separate domains - digital lifestyles, digital ecosystems, and digital society.

Ends/Monday, December 4, 2006
Issued at HKT 11:44