Yale Law School Hosts Open Standards International Symposium

Information technology experts, economists, industry executives and government officials from around the world will come together for a day-long “Open Standards International Symposium,” February 3, at Yale Law School, 127 Wall St.

An open standard is a publicly available set of technical guidelines for computer communication. A familiar example of an open standard, HTML, is managed by the World Wide Web Consortium, which sees to its dissemination and evolution, but does not own it. Anyone can inspect, criticize or suggest enhancements to an open standard, and any changes must be made by consensus. Because open standards for information and communications technologies impact global trade, technology innovation and public policy, their use is sparking heated debate around the globe. Governments from Brazil and Belgium to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have implemented policies requiring open standards; standards have also taken center stage in global conflict, as countries such as China and the United States each claims the other violates international law with its standards policies.

The symposium will be hosted by Yale Law School’s Information Society Project (ISP), led by Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin and ISP Executive Director and Lecturer in Law Eddan Katz.

“We’ve seen information technology standards increasingly used in strategic ways by technology companies and world governments, and these technical decisions have become more and more political,” says Katz. “After Hurricane Katrina, for example, the browser incompatibility some [storm] … 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 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 U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation; 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. It is open to the public; the cost is $45. For more information or to register, visit the OSIS website at http://research.yale.edu/isp/eventsosis.html.

Members of the media are welcome to attend free of charge, but pre-registration is requested.

Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this

Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325