Parliamentarians Discussed the Information Society’s Ethical Problems and Suitable Legislative Solutions in Sofia
9 - 10 June 2008
“Welcome to the fatherland of John Atanassov” were the greeting words of Luben Kornezov, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, addressed on June 9 to the participants in the 2 days long Assembly titled “Information technologies and Ethics”. The National Assembly hosted the Sixth General Assembly of the International Parliamentarians’ Association for Information Technology (IPAIT).
Prof. Kornezov expressed his hope that the present assembly will be a place for useful debate and valuable exchange of ideas and opinions. The Head of the Bulgarian State Agency for Information Technology Plamen Vachkov presented the Bulgarian experience in the field of information technologies and communications. He noticed that 38 % of the Bulgarian population uses a stable Internet connection and 31 % of the households are connected to Internet, as well as 81 % of the businesses and organizations. There are more than 5000 companies working in the IT field in the country.
There is a plan to establish IT Centers in every municipality in Bulgaria until 2009. The Centers will provide IT training and skills, said Mr. Vachkov. He also added that a Supercomputer Center is to be open at the end of the month to facilitate the scientific development in the country. In the last two years some BGN 25 M, mostly private money, were invested in the IT sector.
The prominent Bulgarian scientist, academician Kiril Boyanov made a presentation. He mentioned that more than 12 billion unwanted messages (SPAM) were received every day by users and people lose 8 -9 days per year to delete the unwanted e-mail. He considered regulation as the greatest threat to Internet but admitted that there was need to improve the security of Internet and information technologies. He proposed ethical codes, harmonized among the parliaments, to be introduced.
Internal Security and Public Order Committee Chair Mincho Spassov was elected as President of IPAIT. It has become customary to elect the new president from the hosting country. Until now Mr. Spassov was holding the position of Vice - President. Representatives from 24 parliaments took part in the assembly, as well as observers from 14 countries.
The event ended with the adoption of a Final Declaration which summarized the results and the will of the participants to undertake legislative steps for further development of the Information society. S.S. Aluvalia, Member of Parliament from India was nominated for Vice-President of IPAIT. India was selected to become the next country to host the gathering of IPAIT.
On June 10, 2008, the Speaker of Bulgarian parliament Georgi Pirinski welcomed the participants. He praised the issues discussed especially the one regarding the unequal Internet access of different social groups. He stressed the importance of the Final Declaration, adopted by the assembly, which recognizes the need for regulatory intervention based on common ethical standards concerning the use of information technologies but also puts a limit of too much interference on the part of governments. On the focus of discussions was the protection of children from the harmful impacts in Cyberspace. National assembly chairman added that the discussion was very important and well timed.
The National Assembly hosted a parallel International Workshop titled ‘E-Parliament – Challenges and Opportunities of the Regional Approach’, organized by the Regional Secretariat for South East European Parliamentary Cooperation and the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament. Representatives of legislative bodies from South East Europe discussed issues regarding strategies for building e-parliaments and digital public relations feed back. All agreed that part of the problems was the lack of finances and the number of official languages, in some of the countries.