The principles of the Estonian Information Policy were approved by the Parliament of Estonia on May 13, 1998 (http://www.eik.ee/english/policy) This policy document gives a proper framework for actions toward the information society.
The Information Policy serves as a basis for an Action Plan, which in turn is the basis for all government organizations to plan and start different projects and programmes. The Action Plan is discussed once a year in the Government of Estonia and it has been approved first on April 1998 (http://www.eik.ee/english/policy/plan.htm).
The Coalition Agreement
The February 1999 Coalition Agreement (http://www.riik.ee/government) of the Reform Party, Pro Patria and Mõõdukad (Moderates) forming the Government Coalition describes some actions based on the Information Policy.
According to the amendments to the Government of Republic Act recommended by the government and adopted by the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) in June 2000, the Ministry of Communications is coordinating the work of the state information systems. In all ministries, county governments and state organizations IT development and maintenance is managed/coordinated by IT managers.
The main implementing and advisory bodies are:
Department of State Information Systems, State Chancellery (from September, 2000, Ministry of Transport and Communications) - http://www.riik.ee/infosystems/
Estonian Informatics Centre (a state agency) – http://www.eik.ee/english
Estonian National Communications Board - http://www.sa.ee/sa/eind1.htm
Inspection of Data Protection – http://www.dp.gov.ee
Estonian Informatics Council (acting from 1997 as a government committee)
http://www.eik.ee/ein/ available in Estonian; about its activities see in English
Tiger Leap Foundation – http://www.tiigrihype.ee/english
Some basic facts and indicators
Total number of conventional phone lines per 100 inhabitants - 35.4
Total number of mobile phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants – 31.5
Mobile telephone transmission networks cover 99% of Estonia's populated area
Number of people having used the Internet in the last six months – 400,000
(28% of the population)
Number of users of online banking systems – 180,000 (13%)
RIPE host count by DNS domains (real) – 33,280 (July 2000)
The Republic of Hungary has a population of around 10 million people, following the end of the second world war Hungary became part of the Soviet dominated Eastern European block and its government and economy were refashioned on the communist model. During 1956, increasingly nationalist opposition, pushed the Government to announce its withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and this led to a massive military intervention by Moscow. During the Gorbachev era Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and steadily moved toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented democracy. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, Hungary developed close political and economic relations with Western Europe and is now being considered as a potential member of the European Union.
As regards telecommunications, historically, Hungary has had an underdeveloped communication network. Until 1989 telecommunications used to be a state monopoly and was bundled up with traditional postal services and broadcasting. In 1990, the first transformation came about. The company that had the monopoly for these three services was split into three. The second transformation came around with the Telecommunications Act that became effective in the summer of 1993. This Act essentially established the theoretical framework of the current structure of telecommunications and accelerated the reform in the telecommunications sector. The future for telecommunications in Hungary is as yet not clearly charted, like many other countries, due to the fast rate or change in this sector. Yet as more services become liberalized and the termination of exclusivity of services, which will last until 31 December 2001, comes into effect, an exciting time for the Republic of Hungary is on the horizon.
Hungary has realized that a planned investment in information technology and its supporting infrastructure is required for the development of the information society. The effects of such an investment together with the benefits of the information society makes the return on such investment worthwhile. The birth of a global telecommunications network and the convergence of telecommunications, computer engineering and entertainment electronics technologies open up new prospects for global trade in information services. In the course of this process, telecommunications itself is becoming part of information technology, and its services have an increasingly 'intelligent' content. This infrastructure should be capable of connecting any user network run by businesses, institutions or private individuals, and suitable for intelligent data processing. In addition to this the Hungarian Government has created a Commissioner for ICT within the office of the Prime Minister with two main lines of action related to the establishment of an Information Society National Action Plan. The first line of action is called the Szechenyi Plan which is an ambitious initiative for mid-term national economic development and has a time horizon of six years. The yearly budget for 2001 and 2002 allocated is approximately 1 billion US dollars and Government expects a similar contribution from the private sector. This plan has seven priority areas called programmes. In each programme there are several sub-programmes. One of the seven programmes is dedicated specifically to the development of the information society and information economy. In this programme, there are five sub-programmes, covering the areas of e-Government; improvement of the availability and access of IT resources; creating the foundations for the e-economy, enhancement of information culture, improvement of accessible contents, improvement of quality of life and rising awareness. A second line of action related to the establishment of an information society plan is to publish a National Strategy for Informatics. This document is intended to serve as the basic guideline for the development of the Information Society in Hungary.
There are several other ongoing activities. The first pilot project on Certificate Authority and Digital Signature system started in October 2000 at the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior issued new personal identification card and driving licenses harmonized with the EU recommendations and standards of the member states. The system is based on a nation-wide IT network, connecting 254 offices in municipalities. The offices are situated at the local governments and supported by the Ministry of Interior. The offices are one-stop contact points between the citizens and Government. The local governments and other authorities can use the wide area network for various transactions on the intranets and the Internet as well.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection established a website that provides information on the state of the environment. Also, a fully operational network for the collection, processing and monitoring of environmental data in Hungary that will be fully compatible with the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET). There is a national database of substances damaging the ozone layer, too.
The digitalization of Hungarian authors' literary works (in the framework of Neumann Digital Library and Multimedia Centre) is in progress. Furthermore, the establishment of the National Audio-visual Archive is in progress, too. The development of high-speed Internet access for National Cultural Institutions (in co-operation with the National IT Infrastructure Development Programme/NIIF) continues.
The John von Neumann Computer Society (NJSZT) has joined the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) Foundation in 1997. There are more than 150 accredited Test Centres, co-ordinated and controlled by NJSZT. There are more than 30.000 candidates and more than 16.000 completed ECDLs. The Hungarian Quality Assurance System for ECDL Centres is recognized as international best practice. The ECDL Programme is accredited by the Ministry of Education for the Further Education Programme for Teachers
Government has pledged the use of information technology for its operation and its primary aim, in the legislative institutions and the central and local agencies of public administration is to standardize existing systems in five to ten years. It wishes to upgrade the most important registration systems to meet modern standards. (The records involved in this scheme cover data on personal identification, business, social security, tax and customs affairs, real estate, motor vehicles and criminals). This scheme may result in direct savings of billions of forints, while its indirect effects may generate an even greater increase in revenue. Government is also trying to co-ordinate the use of up-to-date information processing methods in the preliminary phase of decision-making (handling and flow of documents, availability of data for control by decision-makers, data protection, etc.) in that it may help ease the burden on decision-making bodies, reduce the excessive influence of the specialized institutions and accelerate the decision-making process
Hungary's presence in international fora and organizations will also require that it become connected with the telecommunications and information processing systems of the EU member countries (for instance, the European Nervous System [ENS]) and in common with a number of EU states, a long-term modernization objective of Hungary is that both private individuals and enterprises should be able to communicate with government agencies and other authorities by computer, without the need for printed documents (tax affairs, official certificates, access to non-classified government information, etc.). On a legal front Hungary should take legal measures to protect government information processing systems (the legal force of electronic documents and their archiving, rules for the acquisition of information, the accessibility and protection of data bases, consequences of unauthorized access, etc.).
On the level of public information processing systems which include education, research and culture, in the next 10 to 15 years all schools, libraries and research institutes should be enabled to establish computer links with one another. Direct access to international networks may help schools and universities retain their more qualified staff. It is also envisaged that the Hungarian citizen would be able to exercise his democratic right directly from the home through the use of his PC.
On a business level these systems should concentrate on the background services that improve the general conditions of economic activities (banking and credit transactions, electronic accounting systems, real estate trading services, capital and commodity market information, data bases, etc.). The Government should lay particular emphasis on the protection of personal rights, copyright and business know-how, not only in the traditional fields of civil law, but also in the new branches of administrative law which are increasingly important for the business community (for instance, the monitoring system for public services rendered under concession agreements).
With regards to the enabling infrastructure the telephone capacities of the country can be expanded at an annual rate of about 15 per cent and about thirty-one telephone lines are available for every 100 inhabitants. It can safely be predicted that by the 2010s TV and radio transmission and postal services will be close to European standards. In other areas of telecommunications and information processing, market forces should guarantee more rapid development.