Developing greater e-commerce security and consumer confidence is the objective of an APEC conference taking place in Thailand on Thursday, February 13.
'Addressing Privacy Protection: Charting a Path for APEC' is the title of the conference that will bring privacy advocates, businesses and government representatives together to develop a new approach to online data privacy for the Asia-Pacific Region.
Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, Ambassador Piamsak Milintachinda, said that the day-long conference will address some of the main fears people have with transacting online and seek practical solutions.
"From this e-commerce conference we hope to lay the groundwork for APEC policy guidelines on data privacy," said Ambassador Milintachinda.
"We are aiming to develop an approach to privacy protection that will enhance consumer trust in e-commerce.
"The potential of e-commerce, particularly for small and medium sized businesses, is enormous.
"Trading online is one of the purest forms of cross-border trade that is not compromised by red-tape and traditional barriers to trade.
"One of the greatest obstacles to expanding e-commerce is the issue of data privacy and what this means for consumer confidence.
"The problem is that many businesses and consumers do not feel secure providing private information over the internet in order to complete online transactions.
"The way to overcome these fears is through the development of transparent standards of data protection.
"There is no question that laws and standards on e-commerce and data privacy are crucial.
"Private information must be protected in a way that does not inhibit the flexibility required for online trading to be effective.
"This APEC conference will bring together some of the most informed speakers on the subject of on-line data privacy from legal, academic, business and government circles.
"Presentations will be given by privacy officers from companies such as IBM and Oracle.
"Privacy advocates and government officers will outline their priorities and concerns, as will a number of researchers and academics.
"This conference highlights the importance of data privacy as an important policy aspect of the burgeoning e-commerce industry in the Asia-Pacific."
Ambassador Piamsak said the issue of data privacy is particularly relevant to the 2003 APEC sub-theme of expanding the knowledge based economy.
"Developing and expanding access to the digital or knowledge based economy is an important sub-there of the 2003 APEC year hosted by Thailand," said Ambassador Milintachinda.
"Enhancing standards between economies in areas such as data privacy helps build a stronger environment for the expansion of e-commerce and the digital economy.
"Expanding free trade on the Internet is another step towards APEC's Bogor Goals of free and open trade between developed APEC economies by 2010 and between developing economies by 2020."
The 'Addressing Privacy Protection: Charting a Path for APEC' conference will be held in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and will coincide with the first APEC Senior Officials Meeting for 2003.
Key participants include:
Mr. Peter Ferguson, Chair of the APEC E-Commerce Steering Group.
Mr. Kunying Dhipvadee Meksawan, Ministry of Information and Technology, Thailand.
Mr. Murray Long, Murray Long & Associates, Canada.
Mr. Naoshi Shima, NEC Corporation, Japan
Professor Masao Horibe, Chuo University, Japan.
Mr. Joseph Alhadeff, Oracle Corporation, United States.
Mr. Peter Ford, Attorney General's Department, Australia.