by Grant Gross

TRADE -United States, Europe Pledge Talks to Reduce Conflicting IT Regs

Aug 15, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

President Bush and his European Union counterparts have pledged to work together to reduce conflicting technology regulations, following a summit meeting in June.

The group committed to establish a high-level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and encouraged lawmakers in the United States and European Union to work closely on regulatory issues.

At a Senate hearing in May, executives from high-tech companies complained that conflicting E.U. and U.S. regulations governing the manufacture and sale of IT products are increasing the cost of these products and threatening U.S. and European technology leadership.

The United States and European Union are arguing about who should control the Internet (some people in the European Union favor an international governing body) and about standards that make hardware and software usable for people with disabilities. Conversely, countries such as China and India are focusing on the big picture by making investments to expand their high-tech sector, says Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, a trade group.

High-tech executives bemoan what they see as onerous European regulations. Thomas Patton, vice president of government relations with Philips Electronics North America (a maker of MP3 players), decried a European practice of taxing devices that can be used to copy music, movies or written products, saying the levies drive up vendor and customer costs. The levies are meant to allow copyright holders to get paid.

Meanwhile, Joseph Duffy, vice president with SAP Public Services, wants Congress to work with E.U. regulators on a global standard governing technology-product accessibility for people with disabilities. If there are multiple standards, Duffy says, IT developers will either forgo certain markets or incur costs and delays to implement multiple, possibly conflicting, standards.