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TA-Database-Newsletter No. 4, December 2001, online available [13.12.2001]

The special feature section of the December issue of TA-Datenbank-Nachrichten is devoted to "E-Commerce-Policy". The 10 articles in this section present the discussion on electronic commerce policy initiatives and measures in Europe, the United States and of the international organisations. The introductory article by U. Riehm and C. Orwat, ITAS, analyses the reasons for an e-commerce policy, its contents and conditions for implementation, its actors and the "right time" for taking political steps. The following three articles are concerned with the role of the international organizations: the role and importance of UN organisations for electronic commerce (H. Hauser and S. Wunsch-Vincent, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland); the OECD (L. Lopez-Bassols and G. Vickery, OECD); and the European Commission (S. Santos and M. Perogianni, European Commission, DG Enterprise). This is followed by a presentation of the e-commerce (and IT) policy of the USA (R. Pichler, Morrison & Forrester, San Francisco) and of the Federal Republic of Germany (R. Hochreither, Federal Ministry for Industry and Technology). G. Fuchs of the Center for Technology Assessment of Baden-Württemberg discusses the question whether a "regional e-commerce policy" exists, J. Rieß, DaimlerCrysler AG, confronts the question of self-regulation in electronic commerce from the viewpoint of industry. The subsequent article by M. Green Cowles, American University, Washington, is also devoted to the question of self-regulation: the article analyses the "Global Business Dialogue on e-Commerce (GBDe)", one of the first global business groups to organize itself around public policy issues. The concluding article in this section is concerned with the question whether the fundamental changes in the wake of the creation of new markets and the subsequent globalisation of business processes, require a new legal framework for e-commerce and how these might look like (M. Rothgang and M. Scheuer, Rhine-Westphalian Institute for Economic Research/RWI).

In the institutions section two new funding priority areas of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) are presented. These are the research area "Socio-economic Research" where a novel approach to promoting transdisciplinary sustainability research is developed, and the "(riw)-Funding Priority Area - Framework Conditions for Innovations for Sustainable Economic Activity".

The section on TA projects features a case study on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), combining the LCA approach with Technology Foresight or Forecasting (TF) using the example of wind energy, and a study on Health Technology Assessment (HTA), where a new interdisciplinary approach to participatory technology evaluation was applied. In addition, the "German Research Dialogue FUTUR" is described. In this national foresight activity "Leitvisionen" (guiding visions) are developed on the basis of future scenarios which will serve as starting point for concrete projects. The project is being performed by a consortium of German institutions.

The book review section contains an article on the new volume on integrative global change research ("Integrative Forschung zum globalen Wandel") of the ITAS book series, and a review of a publication of the Umweltbundesamt (UBA/Federal Environment Agency) on environmental quality goals, a state-of-the-art report ("Ziele für die Umweltqualität - eine Bestandsaufnahme").

The conference reports section contains reports on the Deutsch-Österreichisch-Schweizerische Meteorologentagung (German-Austrian-Swiss Meteorological Conference) and a special colloquium of DECHEMA on the increase of CO2in the atmosphere, the meeting on "Sustainable Development: perspectives for the future" of the German-French Forum in Paris, the first Workshop of the Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung (Council for Sustainable Development established by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder) and the 8th ITS World Congress in Sydney. This conference series offers an important international plattform for discussions on the development and introduction of Intelligent Transportation Systems.

The ITAS News contain a comprehensive report on the international congress "Innovations for an e-society. Challenges for Technology Assessment" which was organized jointly by ITAS and VDI/VDE-Technologiezentrum Informationstechnik GmbH Teltow last October in Berlin, and which received financial supported from BMBF. The report provides an overview of the plenary contributions and presents the main items of the presentations and discussions of the eight parallel sections (e-Commerce; New Media and Culture; e-Governance; e-Health Services; 'e-work or social contract' - Opportunities for Sustainable Models of Work; The 'Vulnerability' of e-Society - IT Security - Technical and Non-technical Aspects; The Concept of e-Society - Cross-cutting issues). The preprints of the conference are available on the ITAS WWW Server
(http://www.itas.fzk.de/eng/e-society/) or as CD-ROM from ITAS.

In addition, two new publications from ITAS are announced. First, a study on online bookselling in Germany ("Online Buchhandel in Deutschland - Die Buchhandelsbranche vor der Herausforderung das Internet"), which deals with the challenges of the Internet for bookselling, and a study report on options for a more efficient and environmentally compatible organisation of transportation in agglomeration areas ("Verkehr in Ballungsräumen - Optionen für eine effizientere und umweltverträglichere Gestaltung").