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Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) technology is significantly different. In a direct broadcast system, television programs beamed from a sending earth station to the satellite will be received directly by a large number of receivers, using small antennas and equipment for converting frequencies (that is, types of home TV sets in use today could not be used without expensive conversion). The programs technically could be received directly by a home television set, or by a community receiver for distribution by cable to home sets or for display on a centrally located screen. The system whereby programs are received directly by home receivers (referred to as DBS) raises the
most troublesome issues.
The U.S. Government has no specific plans for establishing a DBS system. However, the technology will be operating on a domestic level in some countries by the 1980's. Japan has a domestic experimental DBS system (built in the United States). The Soviet Union is reportedly nearing an operating domestic DBS capability, and Canada plans a domestic operational DBS systém for the early 1980's.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONTROVERSY
The question of whether TV programs may be beamed via satellite from one country directly to the TV sets of another, without the approval of the "receiving" government, has been the subject of controversy in U.N. forums for the past six years. For the Soviets and many developing countries, "prior consent" means allowing the receiving state to examine and censor each program; for many Western states, "prior consent" would mean permitting the receiving state to license a DBS service before it commenced, with requests for such licenses evaluated on the basis of local standards.
As a practical matter, a 1977 ITU Regional Administrative Radio Conference, which assigned the frequencies in the Broadcast satellite Services bands of 11.7-12.5 gigahertz on a nation-by-nation basis in the Eastern Hemisphere, would require prior technical coordination before beaming DBS programs at the TV sets of another nation.
THE UNITED NATIONS
The DBS issue surfaced in the 1960's as a Soviet initiative to censor individual programs in any future DBS system. Since then the UN and its subcommittees and working groups have been wrestling with the question. Over the past six years, the Outer Space Committee (now 47 members) has agreed to a number of relatively non-controversial principles on DBS and has now reached the prior consent issue. The present draft text in the UN does not explicitly call for a "prior consent", but rather "arrangements and/or agreements" between broadcasting and receiving states before the initiation of a DBS service.
In dealing with the DBS issue, the U.S. objectives are:
1. To prevent the United Nations or other bodies from approving political principles on DBS that would derogate from the right "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
2. To work for international arrangements in the United Nations and ITU which promote in practice the free exchange of information and ideas via DBS.
3. To preserve the consensus procedure of the UN Outer Space Committee, which has thus far served broad and important U.S. interests in space.
4. To demonstrate sensitivity to Third World concerns about the imbalance in world communications, and to offer to help developing countries to use DBS for social and economic development.
The United States strongly supports the principle of free flow of information across national borders. Within the context of our free flow policy, the United States opposes a "prior consent" regime. We have thus refused to accept the language in the present draft UN text. The United States is, however, willing to accept a principle committing states to non-binding consultations, if requested, with receiving states before initiating a DBS service.
V. TRANSBORDER DATA FLOWS
The term "transborder data flows" refers to the transmission of data from computer to computer, using telecommunications circuits across national borders.
The United States is by far the largest exporter of computers and communications equipment and the largest provider of data services. Computer systems are critical to multinational corporations and the data service industry. They store, process and transmit information, and transfer funds, for aviation, banking, and other industries. Transborder data flows are thus important.
Although the principle of free flow of information is also applicable to transborder data flows, in contrast to DBS and UNESCO, the information involved is essentially economic and technical data or personal records rather than news or other forms of public communications.
European countries are uneasy about the computerization of their Societies and the U.S. dominance of the computer and related markets. They are resisting the uncontrolled growth of the technology. Regulations, proposed or adopted, are directed at a number of social, economic, and security objectives.
Since 1973, Sweden, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Austria and Canada have enacted laws seeking to protect privacy by controlling the transmission of personal information across borders. Other European nations have draft laws awaiting parliamentary action. Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Switzerland are studying the issue. Some legislation protects the privacy of "legal persons", which would restrict the activities of multinational corporations.
The OECD Committee on Information, Computers and Communications Policy is now considering how differing national approaches to privacy legislation can be harmonized so that data flows will not be
restricted. Since European legislation is similar, harmonization is basically a problem of U.S. approach versus European approach.1 The Council of Europe (the United States is not a member) is drafting a privacy connection which follows the European model of privacy laws and probably will be a document to which we could not adhere. Harmonization, therefore, is a real issue for the United States. Other regulations have been proposed for security, job protection or other reasons. Many European concerns about computer dependency are similar to those expressed in the United States. We share European concerns for privacy, and we can understand why a nation may be concerned that data critical for its central economic planning is stored in computers in another country.
INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE
An interagency task force chaired by the Department of State, with NTIA providing primary technical support, is charged with developing policy on transborder data flows in consultation with the public, industry representatives, and Congress.
Within the OECD, the United States supports international arrangements on sensitive personal data that will assure adequate protection of such data with the least possible restriction of data flows. An OECD Group of Experts is now drafting international Guidelines for dealing with personal data flows, using the U.S. paper, prepared by the Task Force, as the principal basis for the Guidelines.
The Task Force has formulated some broad objectives.
1. To assure U.S. multinationals and others of nondiscriminatory access to low cost, efficient information systems.
2. To assure non-discriminatory commercial opportunity for U.S. firms that are marketing international data processing and data bank services.
3. To participate in developing international computer, data processing, software and encryption standards.
4. To protect the privacy of personal data of U.S. nationals.
5. To support general access to scientific and technical data bases. 6. To respond to international concern about U.S. domination of international computer and data processing and the reliability of access to U.S. data bases.
7. To encourage U.S. access to foreign advances in hardware and software technologies.
8. To encourage foreign governments to restrict their privacy laws to coverage of natural persons.
9. To provide a functional system for government-to-government exchange of data with due regard to national security and personal privacy.
1 European laws tend to rely on registration and licensing and apply to both the public and private sector but only with respect to automated systems. The United States Privacy Act applies only to information (automated and manual) held by the government. The Administration is developing legislation and guidelines tailored to specific categories of records held by the private sector. It is contemplated that legislation would be selfenforcing and would not require registration or licensing.
The most serious constraint on U.S. policymaking is the lack of knowledge about the dimensions of the real and potential restraints on transborder data flows. To make progress, we will: identify existing and potential restraints on transborder data flows; assess the impacts of these restraints on our companies and on our overall economic and foreign policy interests; and establish priorities on issues most affecting U.S. interests. The Task Force will be preparing specific policy recommendations responding to these questions by June 1979.
VI. DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATIONS
Communications systems are a crucial part of the economic and Social infrastructure of modern nations; developing countries need technical assistance both to modernize their internal communications systems and to establish links with global and possibly regional systems. In the words of the UNESCO Director General: "If the improvement of the means of communication between peoples tends to become a major subject of preoccupation, it is because communication has very rapidly been perceived to be coextensive with all aspects of development, of which it is a strategic factor." The United States is thus giving increased attention to development communications, as indicated, for example in Ambassador Reinhardt's statement to the UNESCO General Conference, discussed at pages 9-10.
U.S. COMMUNICATIONS AID
United States assistance to Third World communications has come either through bilateral channels-AID, ICA, ExIm Bank-or via multilateral channels-World Bank, regional international banks and U.N. functional agencies such as UNESCO.
Bilateral communications aid
Bilateral aid for communications through AID totaled $27 million. in fiscal year 1978. Of this sum, $12 million was in Development Assistance Programs (1 percent of the Development Assistance Budget) and $15 million in Supporting Assistance, largely for Egypt. In fiscal year 1979, AID communications funding is expected to increase appreciably, to a total of between $35-$40 million, with Development Assistance funds accounting for $15 to $20 million.
In recent years, Congressional and AID emphasis on "new Directions" and on "basic human needs" has imposed some constraint on efforts to assist developing nations to modernize communications. The extent of this constraint should not, however, be overstated since communications assistance can provide important support for "basic human needs" objectives.
AID, operating from the view that communications should support programs in its basic human needs sectors, does not have a separate communications budget. AID programs are largely in support of innovative "software" development and utilization activities.
AID's activities have included technical assistance in the use of local mass media for basic education, family planning, nutrition, and agriculture; training in communications strategies; and substantial R&D pilot projects designed to improve radio and television programming for mass education. AID has also been involved in short-term communications satellite demonstrations and evaluations with a number of countries, and is considering a broader satellite program, discussed at page 9. In recent years, little assistance has gone to basic telecommunication infrastructure (though the ExIm Bank has supported such projects), except in the Supporting Assistance countries, which are primarily in the Middle East and Southern Africa.
ICA's communications-related exchange programs have accounted for about $1.2 million of its $373 million annual budget. About 3.8 percent of ExIm Bank's annual loans have been communications related, mostly for purchases of telecommunications equipment. This includes $145 million for satellite earth stations for twenty-four countries.
Reimbursable technical assistance
AID's reimbursable technical assistance program offers a channel for assisting upper tier and middle income developing countries which can afford to purchase communications systems (and related training), but which require technical assistance in identifying specific needs, determining feasibility, and weighing alternatives. To assist in this process, AID finances and makes available U.S. technical teams to help clarify and define development requirements or projects specifications, and to advise on the kinds and sources of applicable U.S. technology.
Communications has been among the areas of greatest demand for reimbursable technical assistance. In view of the influential role upper tier and middle income developing countries can play in influencing positions of the Third World on various communications issues, reimbursable technical assistance may be an especially valuable tool in developing more effective relationships with the United States and encouraging broader understanding of differing points of view. Multilateral communications aid
The World Bank and its International Development Agency (IDA) have made communications expenditures averaging $82 million per year, primarily for long-distance lines, subscriber equipment, satel lite terminals, and general telecommunications expansion. Both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are now considering support for communications in rural areas.
The north/south aspect
Expanded aid to communications will contribute generally to the climate of our several upcoming communications negotiations. Political benefits do not themselves justify launching a major aid program, but here there is ample justification on the merits. Delegations involved in communications issues are fully briefed on AID or ICA efforts in the communication field.