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O'Reilly and Brady join ICX board

IT's Monday News Edition: 356 / 31 May 1999 / John Sterne

Two Dublin-based experts in electronic trading and internet security, Pat O'Reilly and Michael Brady, have been added to the board of the International Commerce Exchange (ICX), a European forum which aims to raise users' trust and confidence in secure e-commerce. Pat O'Reilly is chief executive of and Brady is the chief technology officer at SSE, the Siemens company which O'Reilly headed until earlier this year.

The International Commerce eXchange held its third annual .conference in Dublin last week. The organization is gradually expanding its board to draw in members from a broader range of industries and from different regions of Europe. Thus, ICX chairman Nick Mansfield explains, Pat O'Reilly was chosen to represent the interests of Europe's small and medium enterprises on the board.

The existing members include executives from Arthur Andersen, Telecom Italia and two post offices. Mansfield's own employer is Shell Services International in the Netherlands, where he holds a senior consulting post.

The ICX, he explains, started life in the mid-nineties as a discussion forum on the risks and relationships in electronic commerce. Large enterprises were starting to invest in an uncharted area, where security was problematic and new inter-company dependencies were emerging. None of the industry's existing IT organizations or professional bodies were addressing the implementation issues. The ICX therefore was therefore formed to pool the collective wisdom of e-commerce practitioners.

The European Commission agreed to sponsor the new association and financed an initial project which had three main aims. One was to establish the ICX itself as a self-funding non-profit organization. The second was to build a secure electronic commerce model with a knowledge base that could be consulted through the internet. The third deliverable was the kernel of a training package to guide organizations, particularly smaller firms, through the planning and development of secure online trading services.

'Our idea,' Nick Mansfield says, 'was to create a roundabout in cyberspace. You can get connected off the roundabout with sites that can answer your questions. We also collected the knowledge that was lying around our own organizations and put it into the secure model.'

The EU-funded study is coming to an end - the final deliverables are due next month - and the ICX is now reorganizing itself around three working groups. It is also expanding its board beyond the participants in the EU project. There are nine members today and more will probably be added. Nick Mansfield is particularly keen to get a banking expert into the group, preferably from a country where the ICX is not already represented.

In addition, he reports, the OECD and the International Chambers of Commerce have asked the IXC to participate in the World Electronic Commerce Conference in Australia next November. Nick Mansfield cites this invitation as evidence that the work of the ICX is starting to receive global recognition.

The ICX approach to the societal, legal and ethical aspects of secure electronic commerce could be seen at last week's conference.

In one discussion, for example, speakers asked whether existing data protection legislation will suffice when online traders acquire tools that let them conduct for transactions anonymously or through pseudonyms. Will US companies gain competitive advantages over their European counterparts because North Americans are more tolerant of the 'cookies' that gather information on web users' behaviour? And will today's attitudes to data privacy seem archaic to future generations that will trade their personal information for goods or services as part of everyday life?



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