11 December 2003

Globalizing Internet Brings Unexpected Problems

Globalizing Internet Brings Unexpected Problems:

Thu December 11, 2003 10:49 AM ET

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By Bernhard Warner, European Internet Correspondent

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations' push to transform the developing world into tech-ready nations could partly backfire, delegates to an IT summit aimed at bridging the 'digital divide' said on Thursday.

The overwhelming consensus at the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) summit this week is that bringing the Internet and telecoms innovations to the world's poor is a noble cause that needs embracing now.

But there are unpredictable consequences that also need to be considered, experts said.

'There are a number of non-trivial issues that come with overcoming the digital divide,' said Alan Greenberg, a Canadian IT consultant who works with the World Bank on programs aimed at bringing new technologies to the developing world.

'Security is one of them. Whether it be viruses or worms, or various forms of fraud, they will be coming to developing countries too. There are no barriers,' he said.

The need for international measures to fight computer virus outbreaks and step up prosecution of 'cybercriminals' has been a constant topic of the three-day event -- particularly among representatives of the developed world."

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