Increasing international regulation of the flow of high speed data to European and developing nations could threaten the development of the telecommunications industry, the chairman of American Satellite Co. warns.
In a speech prepared for delivery today in Denver, Emanuel Fthenakis, chairman of the Rockville-based Fairchild Industries subsidiary, said American business has been slow to recognize the regulatory trend.
Fthenakis, in remarks to the Satellite Communications Users Conference, was referring to demands made to UNESCO that controls be placed on the transfer of scientific, business and military data. UNESCO is drafting an information policy paper.
"Thus, Third World countries would monitor the transmission and levy fees for positions over their space territory and share the data," Fthenakis said. "American business has been slow to wake up to this threat.
"The implications of these moves, if applied in a disruptive manner with ill intentions, could be profound. They threaten the fabric of international business in a way not seen since the rampant protectionism of the 1930s.
"Efforts by Third World countries to 'protect' themselves from the latest benefits of data transmission are self-defeating. Business communication, as I have described, is crucial not only to the success of oil exploration, manufacturing, investment, and free trade itself but also the endeavors of Third World nations to leapfrog to a position of parity of developed countries," he said.
The UNESCO effort by the smaller nations, according to Fthenakis, is based on the accusation that Western interests and multinational corporations seek to dominate world communications. "They claim this provides a powerful centralized capability for dominating the world," he said.
But Fthenakis said that communications technology represents an opportunity for developing countries to move toward technological parity with the West.