UN tackles millennium bug

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Spin now goes global...



Tuesday, June 22, 1999 Published at 01:21 GMT 02:21 UK


UN tackles millennium bug

By UN Correspondent Mark Devenport

Representatives of more than 170 countries are meeting to share information about their preparedness for dealing with the so-called Y2K bug, which threatens computer operations at the turn of the millennium.

At a preliminary news conference at UN headquarters in New York, coordinators from around the world expressed broad confidence in their regions' preparations, but they also voiced concern about the potential for panic among an ill-informed general public.

Carlos Jarque: "Catastrophic messages"

Mexico's coordinator, Carlos Jarque, said the popular perception of the problem was as important as the problem itself:

"Will the banks work? Yes, provided not everyone goes and withdraws their deposits, " he said.

" Will telephone systems work? Yes, provided not everyone picks up the phone and sees if they have a dialling tone."

Trade fears

Record attendance at the UN for the meeting

The millennium bug is caused by the abbreviated dates that have been used in computer programmes - for instance, identifying a year as "60" rather than "1960".

The bug could convince some computers that the year 2000 is in fact 1900, leading them to process data inaccurately, with inevitable knock-on effects on sectors like telecommunications, trade or transport.

A representative from the Philippines expressed concern about groups he said were offering to take care of people's money if they didn't feel it was safe in the bank over the millennium.

A representative from Venezuela said his country could guarantee its oil exports, but admitted doubts about the effects of the bug on the satellite technology that Venezuelan companies relied on for trade information.

Prepare yourself

The United States coordinator said that in general the developed world was better prepared than the developing world, but he warned consumers all over the world to find out about the bug, so they are ready for whatever the turn of the year brings.

The conference organisers say it is important the media portrays an accurate picture of the problem so scare stories do not take hold.

However, they are conducting some of their own proceedings behind closed doors in order to ensure participants are totally frank with each other about their country's true state of readiness for the millennium.


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), June 22, 1999


Also see this thread...


"U.S. believes world is better prepared for computer bug"

-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), June 22, 1999.

The spin campaign is now going global. This is an important article...take a second look at it.

-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), June 22, 1999.

See also UN to media: Be accurate, don't scare folks! Oh, and get lost!

-- regular (zzz@z.z), June 22, 1999.

Actually, the UN didn't so much tackle it as they took a meeting with it. Then they had some lunch. Then they had more meetings. Then they issued some strongly-worded joint communiques which required many dead trees and said nada, niente, nichts, rien, zippo. Then they had dinner, with port and cigars afterwards.

They may possibly go on TV at some point and shake their fist to show how strongly they believe that we gonna whup this bug, yessiree!

[Lapsed into Hamasaki mode on that last one... sorry...]

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), June 22, 1999.

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