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“‘.hk’ for Everyone” is not a Communications Panacea

First published: 13th July 2009

Allan Dyer

In the June 2009 issue of his corporation's newsletter, Jonathan SHEA (CEO of the Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC)) advocates every Hong Kong person being given an online identifier that includes access to a virtual file folder and a personal email address in the domain, and linked to their mobile phone number. He envisages that it could be used as an instant notification system during an emergency, such as a typhoon, without extra effort in collecting personal data or email addresses. He writes, "Whenever an incident occurs, all government departments, public or private organisations or institutions, and schools, could send their messages to everybody’s virtual file folders. Messages would then be instantly broadcastedsic via mobile phone text message reminders."

Although such a scheme would be immensely beneficial to the HKIRC (full disclosure: I am the voting representative of Yui Kee Computing, which is a Member of the HKIRC in the Demand class), as it would guarantee a large number (about 7 million) of domain registrations and make necessary Government expenditure to support HKIRC in the management of those domains, the benefits for Hong Kong are less clear. Some points that should be more fully discussed are:

There is merit in encouraging more people to benefit from using digital communications, and there is merit in utilising digital communications to disseminate emergency communications. However, combining the two ideas in this massive scheme generates a host of difficulties and inefficiencies. We are better served by ad hoc alert mechanisms for different incidents, that we can choose to subscribe to with the relevant organisation.

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