A constitutional majority of 339 parliamentarians in the Verkhovna Rada passed a bill about the foundations for developing an information society in Ukraine in 2006-16 and voted in favor of adopting the necessary measures.
Unfortunately, the text of the new law is not available on the parliamentary Web site. It must be going through additional legal polishing in the depths of the parliamentary apparatus and so has not been made public. The Web site describes the law in a handful of words taken from some attached note. “The main objective of developing an information society in Ukraine is to provide assistance to every person, based on broad utilization of contemporary Information and Communications Technology (ICT) opportunities, in creating, exchanging, and sharing information and knowledge, as well as in manufacturing products and rendering services, with the full realization of one’s potential and with the goal of improving the quality of life and fostering the country’s sustained development on the basis of the goals and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, Declaration of Principles, and the Action Plan that were drafted at the highest-level world meetings on the information society (Geneva, December 2003 and Tunis, November 2005) and on the basis of the Decree of the Verkhovna Rada of Dec. 1, 2005 “On Recommendations for Conducting Parliamentary Hearings on the Questions of Developing an Information Society in Ukraine.”
The note does not say much. It appears that this is because people in our country are still not fully aware of what an information society really is. Suffice it to say that at the Tunis summit the official Ukrainian delegation was inconspicuously absent, which caused discontent in the informed or, as it is now fashionable to say, the advanced Ukrainian IT community.
The seemingly insignificant fact that the law is not available on the Ukrainian parliament’s Web site also speaks volumes. But it does not say as much as the absence of a so-called electronic government in our country. In information societies these governments provide constant feedback from ordinary but informed people to the ministers hired to run the country. Ideally, a system of this kind should make government members feel that they are officials hired to serve rather than to rule the country.
This is a very simplified but more than just political aspect of the information society. With this new law, we are now supposed to talk about the information society as a fait accompli (ignoring, of course, the realities of our life in which poverty and the prevalence of cell phones are a routine phenomenon). The information society, which has already been established in developed countries but which in our country exists only in little-known laws and declarations, can equip us with excellent ideas for making a breakthrough in the global world, whose wealth depends on a knowledge-based economy.
The book by the well-known Ukrainian scholar Anatolii Halchynsky, Global Transformations: Conceptual Alternatives, is an in-depth study of the problems and achievements of post-capitalist societies, and it treats the information society and IT as powerful levers for accelerating social development. The author, who holds a doctorate and until recently was the head of the National Bank of Ukraine, writes, “Acceleration multiplies. Relying on certain generalizations, we can speak about the law of acceleration multiplication, which vividly manifests itself in the information age and can thus be considered characteristic of this age.”
Halchynsky goes on to quote Bill Gates, who says that the best way to make your company stand out among competitors and get away from the chasing crowd is to optimize information processing. Did you get any associations with the Ukrainian law on the information society as you read these lines? I would hope so.
Yurii Poluneiev, one of Ukraine’s top economists and once a high-ranking manager at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is the founder of the Competitiveness Council of Ukraine. He has authored a draft formulation of a unifying national idea that can help the country make a breakthrough in the contemporary world. Poluneiev told The Day, “The very fact that such a bill has been passed is a great and important step forward. But this is not a breakthrough yet. A breakthrough would give us prolonged economic growth. But steps toward an information society are an effective way of increasing the country’s competitiveness. This bill should have been passed a long time ago, not even yesterday but the day before yesterday.”