International Information and Telecommunications Policy Harmonization: A Comparative Analysis

14 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2012

Date Written: August 15, 2009


Those who adopt the lens of globalization see the policy and regulatory environment of information and telecommunications becoming increasingly homogenous across the globe. From this perspective, this homogeneity is often explained as the result of various institutions, including regional governments such as the European Union as well as the WTO and even the U.S. government. While complete harmonization has certainly not been achieved, there exist many examples that provide evidence of this trend such as the widespread adoption of auction policies for the licensing of spectrum in the telecommunications realm and the adoption of anti-circumvention clauses to protect copyrights in the realm of information policy.

However, given the very different nature of information and telecommunication policy, can international harmonization in both domains be explained by the same phenomena? To what extent can both harmonization processes be explained by global trends toward market-oriented policies? Whether by forces of globalization or other means, what are the specific mechanisms for policy harmonization? What fundamental similarities and differences exist between telecommunications and information policy and how do they impact harmonization?

These questions are addressed through a comparative analysis of U.S., European and Asian policies and laws in the areas of wireless policy and copyright law. These two policy domains represent areas of telecommunications and information policy, respectively, which face relatively greater pressure for harmonization, based in part on the ability of signals, information and even users to cross international borders. For example, in wireless policy making the need for standard spectrum assignments and international roaming creates pressure for uniform approaches. Similarly, the ease with which digital works, be they music, art or books, can be transmitted effortlessly across the globe has led many nations to update laws and in doing so sought to work collectively.

The analysis of these two policy arenas and the factors shaping harmonization are based on data collected from secondary sources. The broad nature of the investigation allows for integration of published analyses that provide evidence of both convergence and divergence in various aspects of these policies as well as provide broad geographical coverage. In particular, accounts of the institutions engaged in the policymaking processes that can affect harmonization are examined.

Suggested Citation

Maitland, Carleen, International Information and Telecommunications Policy Harmonization: A Comparative Analysis (August 15, 2009). TPRC 2009, Available at SSRN:

Carleen Maitland (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

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