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Information Society Project To Host Open Standards International Symposium Feb. 3

Yale Law School’s Information Society Project (ISP) will host a day-long “Open Standards International Symposium” on Saturday, February 3, at the Law School. The symposium will bring together some of the world’s top IT experts, economists, industry executives, and government officials to discuss the controversy and the opportunities surrounding open standards.

The idea of “open standards” for information and communications technologies is sparking heated debate around the globe as governments and corporations increasingly recognize how standards impact global trade, technology innovation, and public policy. While governments from Brazil and Belgium to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have implemented policies requiring open standards to promote innovation, interoperability, and public access to information., standards have also taken center stage in global conflict as countries such as China and the United States each claim the other violates international law with their standards policies.

“We’ve seen information technology standards increasingly used in strategic ways by technology companies and world governments,” said ISP Executive Director and Lecturer in Law Eddan Katz, “and these technical decisions have become more and more political. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, the browser incompatibility some Hurricane Katrina victims encountered preventing them from initially registering online for FEMA aid highlighted the social impact open standards can have.”

Representatives of the governments of the United States, China, Belgium and South Africa will take part in the symposium, as will business leaders from Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and IBM. The program begins with welcoming remarks at 9 a.m., followed by 90-minute panel discussions on Technology, Economics, Politics, and Law.

Among the distinguished experts participating on the panels are Dr. Bob Sutor, Vice President of Open Source and Standards for IBM; John S. Wilson, Lead Economist, Development Economics Research Group, International Trade, The World Bank; Peter Strickx, General Manager, Architecture & Standards, Fedict, Belgium; Huang Rengang, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission to the WTO, People's Republic of China; Victoria Espinel, Assistant USTR for Intellectual Property and Innovation at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office; and John Morris, Director, Internet Standards, Technology, and Policy Project, Center for Democracy and Technology.

The Open Standards International Symposium is sponsored by Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and IBM.