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09.10.1974

A Switzerland for Databanks ?

Dr. Herbert R. J. Grosch exclusiv für CW

Consider Switzerland. Especially consider Swiss banks and banking. Most especially, consider the Swiss banks as the most trusted repository of international monetary resources: gold, other bullion, currency, bonds.

I believe there is the immediate possibility of an equally important national enterprise in our working area: international data banking. With the fantasic new technologies of satellite communications and integrated circuits, it has become perfectly feasible to store major data files anywhere on earth.

In September, I lectured at a meeting on data processing economics in Mainz, Germany, sponsored by UNESCO'S lntergovernmental, Bureau for Informatics. At one of the earlier sessions, a prominent Canadian official complained about the costs and the risks of storing Canadian data in U.S. data banks. l was about to otter the joking comment that it would be cheaper and safer for U.S. organizations to use Canadian data banks, considering Canadian expertise in data communication and the ugly stories in Watergate America about the CIA and the FBI.

And then it dawned on me that here was no joke, but a very real possibility - a new kind of business.

Such data banks must not be protected just technologically, but by explicit local, regional and national legislation. The willingness of the various authorities to provide this and the credibility outsiders place in the moral underpinnings of the country, count for much more then the technical precautions (which can be purchased). Thus, Vancouver/British Columbia/Canadia or Lausanne/Switzerland or Auckland/New Zealand, or even Monte Carlo/Monaco look a lot better than Chicago or Caracas or Budapest. In a very vital way, moreover the national morality must support the idea, in the way that the Swiss love of freedom and privacy underlies and protects the banking laws.

What countries could do this? Well, many come to Mind. Not the big powers to hungry. Not the countries under authoritarian rule, whether -right or left. Not countries with internal divisions, whether between classes or languages or racial groups.

But Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Monaco, perhaps Austria, New Zealand, Australia.

The key is national willingness and the lock that it must turn is national morality. The key must turn to Produce detailed, Intelligent legislation. The technology is available worldwide. The People required - sturdy honest, expert people - can be recruited. The economics, it backed by modern marketing, honest marketing, are sound.

It could fly tomorrow.