The Swedish ICT-Commission

The Swedish ICT-Commission / Remit

Terms of Reference (Directive 1998:38) The Commission for analysing the impact of information technology on social development - The IT Commission

Resolution adopted at a Cabinet meeting on 14th May 1998.

Summary of the remit

The Government appoints a new IT Commission to analyse the impact of information technology on social development. On the basis of a thorough analysis, the Commission shall reveal problems and indicate future opportunities in the IT sector. On this basis the Commission shall work to promote widespread use of information technology.

By appointing a new Commission the Government wishes to indicate that the IT Commission will in future be working on partly revised terms. The new Commission shall assist the Government in its work on IT questions by giving advice, proposing concrete measures and assisting in the spread of information to the general public.

In order for the Commission to have good prospects of working on a long-term basis, it has been given a remit which extends over a five-year period. Such is the rapidity of developments in this field that the Commission will have to be capable of altering its approach and working procedures during the currency of the remit. Accordingly, the Commission is to draw up an annual plan of activities in consultation with the Government. In addition the Commission is to hold regular consultations with the Government in the course of each year of its activity. Furthermore, the Secretariat of the Commission should be able to support and co-operate with the 2000 delegation and other working groups active in the IT sector.


In the spring of 1994 the Government appointed a Commission to promote widespread use of information technology in Sweden. That Commission presented the report “Lending wings to human capacity” (SOU 1994:118), the recommendations in which were partly entrusted to the Foundation for the Development of Knowledge and Competence. That Foundation was created through a Riksdag (parliamentary) resolution in 1994 (Government Bill Prop. 1993/94:177, bet. 1993/94:UbU12, rskr. 1993/94:399) and is among other things tasked with the funding of measures to promote the use of IT.

In January 1995 a new IT Commission (SB 1995:01) was appointed for the same main purpose as its predecessor, but with a different membership and more clearly defined remit (Dir. 1995:1). The IT Commission was to advise the Government on overarching, strategic questions in the IT sector. It was also to spur developments, disseminate knowledge, observe the expansion networks, encourage developments in the public sector and contribute towards the resolution of legal issues. In addition, the Commission was to illuminate the consequences of IT use for social development and in particular for the development of arts and the media. The Commission was also to observe international developments in this field.

The IT Commission was instructed to propose measures promoting the use of information technology, with special focus on enterprise, working life, education and competence development. The Commission presented an interim report in June 1995 (The Working Programme of the IT Commission 1995-96, SOU 1995:86). This working programme indicates a number of priority fields, viz education, knowledge, arts and the media, legal questions, business enterprise and administration, manufacturers and users, working life and work organisation, and impact analyses. Additional fields included in the Commission’s remit were women’s use of information technology, IT use in health care and hospitals, and IT and the environment. Gender equality aspects were to be taken into account in all these various fields.

The IT Commission’s remit was renewed and extended in June 1996 (Dir. 1996:46). The new terms of reference included partly new tasks, some of them as a consequence of Government Bill 1995/96:125 on measures to broaden and develop the use of information technology (the IT Bill). Work was to be aimed at proposing concrete measures for creating growth and employment with the aid of information technology and for augmenting access to information technology. The Commission was also to analyse the consequences of and future scenarios for IT use. In November 1996 the IT Commission resolved to set up an IT Law Observatory in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the Government’s IT Bill. The Observatory assists the IT Commission in its task of observing legal developments within the Commission’s priority fields, and it independently compiles documentation as a basis for the Commission’s advice to the Government in legal matters. The Commission has presented a number of research reports and other writings to the Government. The final report of the present Commission was presented to the Government on 31st May 1998.

The Young People’s IT Council, also appointed in January 1995 (Dir. 1995:02), was particularly concerned with schools and with young people’s opportunities of IT use. In an interim report submitted in March 1996, the Council presented3 examples of good IT use among children and young persons (Mice and Men, SOU 1996:32). With the presentation by the Young People’s IT Council of its final report, Mega-Byte (SOU 1996:181), its remit was renewed for a further year (Dir. 1996:105). The final report Mega-Byte was followed in December 1997 by another report, The Key to the Mega-change (SOU 1997:185) in which the proposal put forward in Mega-Byte (“Mega-change”) were concretised. During the spring of 1998 the Government plans to instruct the National Board of Youth Affairs to enlarge on certain of the proposals made by the Young People’s IT Council.

The remit

The remit of the present IT Commission expires on 31st May 1998. The Government is anxious for developments in the IT sector to continue to receive special attention. Previous IT Commissions over the years have dealt with a long succession of questions and fields in order to shed light on the great social changes which information technology has given rise to. At the same time these questions have come to be highly important to many people in business enterprise and the public service. Accordingly, the new IT Commission should undertake a more thorough analysis of the preconditions and potentialities of information technology where social development is concerned. The Commission shall employ a forward-looking approach and shall raise new issues. The Commission shall compile analyses aimed at illuminating the opportunities and any problems which the use of information technology can imply in the community at large. The Commission shall propose concrete measures whereby information technology can be used for the augmentation of growth and employment and shall suggest ways of making this technology more available. In addition, the Commission shall keep itself informed of developments at international level.

The IT Commission shall help the Government to play its part in IT development. Among other things this means that the Commission shall initiate new development measures, guide and co-ordinate the development work in progress within various bodies and see to it that knowledge of information technology is disseminated in all parts of society. The IT Commission shall advise the Government on overarching, strategic issues in the IT sector. In this connection the IT Commission shall observe new development tendencies and shall draw the Government’s attention to fields in which current measures are inadequate or are pulling in different directions.

The Commission shall observe various sectors of society and propose ways in which the use of information technology can be promoted in different sectors of the population, such as immigrant communities and young persons. The fields of information technology, telecommunications and media are tending more and more to converge. Within the next few years this will probably lead to the appearance of new services and to changed conditions of existing services, which in turn may occasion demands for legislative changes. A special investigator (Ku 1997:05) has been appointed to study a co-ordination of the law applying to radio broadcasting, television and telecommunications. The investigator’s report is to be presented not later than 31st October 1998. The Commission shall identify and propose additional fields which should be made a subject of future investigation and in which public preparedness may come to be required.

Working procedures and timetable

Plan of activities

Given the unpredictable nature of developments, it is impossible for the IT Commission’s priorities to be defined for the duration of its remit. Instead these priorities are to be defined by the Commission annually adopting, in consultation with the Government, a plan of activities in which proposals are made concerning priority tasks. To achieve the necessary flexibility at the time, the Commission, acting in consultation with the Government, shall continuously review the parts of its remit which should be given special priority and the projects which should be initiated, as well as discussing, in the course of each year of its remit, the measures which need to be taken. Networks

The present IT Commission works partly through various networks, such as the IT Law Observatory. This has proved to be an effective working approach as regards co-opting a wide range of competence in various fields and communicating the analyses undertaken. The new IT Commission shall therefore work on the same lines but shall be flexible as regards the membership and focus of the various networks. Developmentsin the IT sector and new problem areas may necessitate new constellations or else make existing ones obsolete.


In view of the long duration of the remit, the Commission, in addition to the reports successively presented on various special topics, shall submit an annual situation report to the Government not later than 31st May. This report should be geared to the priority fields laid down in the plan of activities.5 A final report shall be presented by the Commission to the Government not later than 30th May 2003.

The work shall be subject to the Government’s instructions to all committees and special investigators to declare implications for regional policy (Dir. 1992:50), to examine public commitments (Dir. 1994:23), to declare gender policy implications (Dir. 1994:124) and to declare implications for crime and crime prevention (Dir. 1996:49).

(Ministry of Transport and Communications)

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