Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently an independent business technology journalist and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 20 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.
Was there anything you would have liked to take back from 2006? Any regrets? Or, did you wish some things hadn't happened the way they did last year?
I posed the same questions to IT lawyer Bryan Tan, who runs his own practice at Keystone Law Corp, and here's what the oh-so-witty smart aleck came up with:
1. If only I hadn't thought that Singapore will be instituting privacy laws soon. It is January and the Spam Control Bill has not been passed yet.
2. If only I hadn't thought Singapore will be updating its electronic transactions laws soon. I'm writing a law textbook and wanted to wait for the revisions, but it hasn't happened yet.
3. If only they had pushed forward the Wireless@SG program faster--otherwise that young boy who was caught using someone else's wireless network would have been legitimately surfing away on Wireless@SG.
Made in jest, or not, Bryan's observations highlight an issue that's not uncommon across the globe. The law has always struggled to keep pace with the fast-changing digital age. The problem is further entrenched in countries like Singapore, that prefer to adopt a wait-and-see approach before passing any major IT-related law.
They reason that it's better to learn from the mistakes of others, than stroll ahead only to commit the errors themselves. That's a fair rationale, but the problem is, can the law afford to wait?
As Bryan pointed out, the Singapore government has yet to pass its Spam Control Bill, even though the government had issued two public consultation papers--in May 2004 and again in September 2005. In fact, submission of feedback from the public and industry for the second round of consultation closed way back in October 2005.
Perhaps the island-state is choosing to go slow, really slow, after it recalled--probably abashedly--a bid in 2003 to trademark ".sg", apparently unaware that countries such as the United Kingdom had already outlawed any move to trademark ".uk".
Whatever the reason for the delay, be it in Singapore or elsewhere globally, with pressing issues ranging from data privacy to e-mail--and mobile--spam to intellectual property and copyright infringements to resolve, governments worldwide need to find a way to eradicate this bottleneck.
Until then, what was your biggest regret--related to IT, of course--in 2006? Or was there a development in the tech industry that you felt we'd be better off without?