LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 824/96-97
Ref : CB2/PL/IP
LegCo Panel on Information Policy
Minutes of Meeting
held on Friday, 6 December 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing (Chairman)
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Member Absent :
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Member Attending :
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Public Officers Attending :
- Mr David WEBB
- Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury
- Mr Jeremy CROFT
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
- Mr Geoffrey WOODHEAD
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
- Mr Anthony S K WONG
- Senior Assistant Director of Telecommunications
- Mr YUK Wai-fung
- Principal Management Services Officer, Efficiency Unit
- Mrs LAM LEE Ching-sau, Sophie
- Assistant Director Information Technology Services
- Mr K C NG
- Deputy Chief Inspector of Schools, Education Department
- Urban Services Department
- Mr Nelson HA Ka-wing
- Manager, Information Technology Centre
Attendance by Invitation :
- Hong Kong Coalition of Service Industries
- Mr CHAN Wai-kwan
- Secretary General
- Mrs Cindy CHENG
- Market Support Manager
- Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association
- Mr Daniel NG
- Hong Kong Information Technology Federation
- Mr John DALY
- Council Member
- Mr Justin YUE
- Hong Kong Computer Society
- Mr Raymond CHENG
- Vice President
- Mr Johnson CHENG
- Director, Publication
- Prof Jimmy LEE
- Director, Professional Standards
- Hong Kong Development and Strategic Research Centre
- Mr Mathias WOO Yan-wai
- Mr Patrick MOK Kin-wai
- Mr Eric CHOW Lok-ning
- Asia Television Limited
- Mr Kenneth KWOK
- > Assistant Chief Executive Officer
- Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data
- Mr Stephen LAU Ka-men
- Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data
- Mr Robin McLEISH
- Deputy Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data
- Vocational Training Council
- Mr H R KNIGHT, ISO, MBE
- Executive Director
- Mr Stephen AU
- Chief Systems Manager
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong
- Mr Luka LO
- Project Co-ordinator
- Mr Ringo LAM
- Project Manager
- The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
- Mr Lawrence LAW
- Associate Director
Centre of Computing Services & Telecommunications
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
- Mr Roger HARRIS
- Chief Computing Officer
- Mr Kent LEUNG
- Senior Computing Officer
Clerk in Attendance :
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
- Miss Eva LIU
- Head of Research & Library Services Division
- Mr Colin CHUI
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
I. Date and items for discussion for next meeting
(LegCo Paper No.CB(2) 618/96-97(01))
The Chairman informed members that in view of the overwhelming responses from deputations, some of them had to be heard at the next meeting. Members then agreed to schedule the following meetings to continue discussion on the issue of "Development of information superhighway and Internet in Hong Kong" -
10 January 1997
Conference Room A
To meet universities, Vocational Training Coundil, municipal councils etc. The Administration would sit in on the meeting
23 January 997
Immediately after Governers Question Time (about 3:30p.m.)
Conference Room A
The Administration to respond to views raised by deputations
All other LegCo Members and deputations would be invited to attend these meetings.
II. Development of information superhighway and Internet in Hong Kong
2. The Chairman welcomed deputations and representatives of the Administration to the meeting and thanked them for their interest in the subject. She then invited the following deputations to present their views.
Views of Hong Kong Coalition of Service Industries (HKCSI)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(02))
3. HKCSI considered that, in the near future, the percentage of families/offices with computers supporting Internet-access would be an indicator of economic development. Hong Kong lagged behind advanced countries in this regard. In future, application of information via networks would be an important factor in the success of service industries. HKCSI then highlighted the following recommendations for future action -
- The Government should develop and publish a policy paper setting out its own goals as a user of the National Information Infrastructure (NII), and its role in actively encouraging wider use of NII throughout the business community. The paper should address issues like education and training, incentives to use and invest in NII, establishment of a legal framework governing business conducted on the NII, and establishment of an appropriate environment for continued research and development of business solutions for small- and medium- sized enterprises.
- Trade and industry organisations should be encouraged to endorse the use of NII as a business practice and implement it in a standard format, using international standards.
- The Government should take the lead in the endorsement/establishment of these international standards. The principle of "any to any from anywhere and anytime", with reasonable guarantee of security and privacy should prevail.
Views of Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(03))
4. HKISPA took members through its submission and urged the Government to aggressively participate in promoting the use of Internet, making it an efficient engine of economic development and growth. It considered that the Government should avoid restricting the development of Internet by giving careful consideration to issues such as content control. The infrastructure of the network should be kept as open as possible and should allow free flow of information through the network in a secure and efficient way.
5. To this end HKISPA suggested the establishment of an executive committee composed of key representatives of government departments that played important roles in the development and application of information and telecommunications technologies. The committee should work closely with the business, the academia and the public. An advisory council, which included representatives from the information industry and public interest groups, could also be formed to advise the committee on issues relating to information infrastructure. HKISPA also urged the Government to take the actions set out in its submission.
6. Members noted the written submission (LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(08) tabled at the meeting) from Dr William LO of Hongkong Telecom IMS, which was a member of HKISPA, and his reason for not being able to attend the meeting personally.
Views of Hong Kong Information Technology Federation (HKITF)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(04))
7. HKITF went over its submission which was in the same view with most others and made the following recommendations -
- The LegCo Panel on Information Policy took immediate steps to initiate the creation of a Regional Information Infrastructure (RII) Co-ordination Structure to plan, co-ordinate and implement within its authority the development of a Hong Kong RII.
- The RII Co-ordination Structure should encompass senior Executive Authority at the head of the structure and/or within the structure in respect of discrete areas of activity. Adequate financing, both from the Government and private sector, was a vital pre-requisite.
- The RII Co-ordination Structure should be established swiftly to ensure that Hong Kong was not left even further behind in its participation in the rapidly developing Global Information Infrastructure.
Views of Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS)
8. HKCS stated that, as indicated in the written submissions from deputations, there was consensus on the need for information infrastructure for Hong Kong. Education on information infrastructure in Hong Kong lagged behind technological development. The Government should pay more attention to education in this area with particular emphasis on providing training for students at different levels (from primary to postgraduate) to learn the application skills.
Views of Hong Kong Development and Strategic Research Institute (HKDSRI)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(05))
9. HKDSRI opined that the Government was passive and backward in the development of NII. The Government should formulate a national information policy and accord high priority in addressing areas of concern in development and delivery of government information resources, education and research detailed in para 13 of HKDSRIs submission.
Views of Asia Television Limited (ATV)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(06))
10. ATV urged the Government to consider the formation of a representative body on the development of information superhighway. Such a body should comprise developers, users, service providers and policy makers from all sectors. In view of the rapid development of Internet, the Government should (instead of control or monitor) formulate clear policy direction on information infrastructure, give guidance on its development and minimise, if not avoid, adverse impact on the community.
Views of Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 618/96-97(07))
11. PCPD personally agreed that information superhighway would have far-reaching implications on economic development and quality of life; and the establishment and development of information infrastructure for Hong Kong was slow when compared with advanced countries.
12. PCPD stressed that, while his Office would monitor the various cyberspace initiatives underway in Hong Kong with respect to privacy implications, the telecommunications industry should formulate guidelines or codes of practice to ensure that the proliferation of such telecoms services was balanced with appropriate safeguards for personal privacy. He looked forward to working with the Government, in particular the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, and representative bodies of the telecoms industry to formulate the relevant codes of practice.
13. PCPD was particularly heartened by the formation of HKISPA. Among HKISPAs objectives was the speedy formulation of a code of practice for Internet service providers. He intended to work with this group of professionals to ensure that the privacy of individuals was adequately protected on the Internet in accordance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance which would be effective by the end of December 1996. In view of the awesome growth of Internet, he might exercise his statutory power to formulate such code of practice if it could not be developed by the ISPs in the near future.
Proposed administrative structure on information superhighway
14. HKITF pointed out that a National Computer Board was set up in Singapore to develop RII. It suggested the Hong Kong government to establish a policy branch on information infrastructure for the development of RII in Hong Kong. If the Government did not accept the suggestion, a statutory body for RII should be set up.
15. A member was of the view that Hong Kong could learn from Taiwan which stressed on co-operation between the government, business sector and academia in the development of information infrastructure. He opined that the Hong Kong Government, being headed by generalists, was unlikely to support the establishment of a policy branch on information infrastructure. As an alternative, a public funded Information Development Board with functions and powers similar to those of the Sports Development Board or Arts Development Council might be considered. A private fund like the Better Hong Kong Foundation could be set up if government support was not forthcoming. HKITF opined that generalists would also be competent in formulating policy on information infrastructure which was not a technology issue.
16. HKDSRI opined that a policy branch or a statutory body might not be able to deal with the issue of NII which involved many policy areas. A high level committee, like the Japanese committee chaired by the Prime Minister of Japan, should be set up to formulate information infrastructure policy.
17. Another member agreed with HKISPA that the infrastructure of the network should be kept as open as possible. He also supported Dr William LOs view that discussion on the issue of information superhighway should focus on developing what to do (policy) first rather than who and how (structure) too early. It was important to identify the areas where Hong Kong lagged behind advanced countries and learn from overseas experience before developing the structure to deal with the issue.
18. HKCSI pointed out that the United States government took initiative to provide government information via networks to its citizens and gave incentives, such as tax relief, to the private sector for the provision of business information via networks. Singapore invested large amount of money in conducting market researches on "electronic commerce". It considered that Hong Kong should learn from the success of Taiwan which stressed on co-operation rather than management or control.
19. HKISPA pointed out that the termination of franchise for international telecommunications in Singapore enhanced the cost-effectiveness of Internet service provision. It opined that the Hong Kong Government should consider such termination.
20. HKDSRI opined that the Government did not have a timetable for uploading its information onto Internet; and the library services were backward when compared with those in advanced countries. The lower percentage (in comparison with advanced countries like Japan) of families/offices with computers supporting Internet-access in Hong Kong would increase if the Government co-ordinated various sectors and linked up different components of NII. It pointed out that countries in the Asia Pacific region were concerned about information infrastructure which was an important topic at Manilas Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Business Forum. A blueprint for information infrastructure, like that in Singapore, should be drawn up for Hong Kong.
21. HKITF agreed with drawing up of such a blueprint. It considered that the Governments use of Internet for providing government information and delivery of government services, e.g. processing of trading documents, lagged behind countries like Singapore. ATV suggested the Government to assist business organisations to upload information onto Internet.
Codes of Practice
22. The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data stressed that the codes of practice referred to in his submission only related to protection of personal data and privacy in information superhighway. HKISPA pointed out that the code of practice which it planned to formulate for ISPs was intended to serve as guidelines rather than legislation. It was unnecessary to have new legislation to regulate Internet which should be subject to laws applicable to the mass media as a whole.
23. A member agreed with deputations views that more resources and facilities should be allocated to schools to strengthen education on computer studies and information infrastructure. He considered that the curriculum on computer studies, which should also include information infrastructure, inevitably lagged behind technological development as the Government took four to five years to review such curriculum. He would therefore like to know overseas experience in this regard.
24. Whilst curriculum on computer studies was important to train programmers and managers of information systems, HKDSRI considered it necessary for schools to provide a study environment, e.g. school libraries should have computers supporting access to home pages of public libraries and other web sites, which could cultivate students interests in reading/using the information on Internet. The suggestions on using the Internet in schools at Annex B to HKDSRIs submission might be useful to curriculum development on computer studies.
25. HKISPA considered that in the long term the Government should subsidise schools to acquire computers supporting Internet-access rather than relying on sponsorships from Internet service providers.
26. HKCS stressed that the Government should, like Singapore, allocate resources and facilities to allow students to learn basic computer application skills and cultivate their interests in computer studies.
27. ATV opined that the Government should provide financial support to allow university and secondary school students to have access to Internet.
Suggestions for future action
28. A member suggested the Research and Library Services Division of the LegCo Secretariat to conduct a research project on NII policies with a view to presenting the project report for members consideration at the meeting on 23 January 1997. He opined that, after discussion on the issue of development of information superhighway and Internet in Hong Kong, the Panel should prepare a report to the House Committee requesting for the Administrations follow-up action. The Chairman said that written submissions and minutes of meetings on the issue would be circulated to the Administration and deputations which were welcome to send in further submissions, if any, on the issue.
29. The meeting ended at 12:45 p.m.
30 December 1996
Last Updated on 20 August 1998