"The value and importance of standards in the modern world is
profound. As an example, the Department of Commerce concluded in
2004 that standards affect an estimated 80 percent of world
commodity trade. U.S. Department of Commerce, Standards and
Competitiveness – Coordinating for Results 1 (May 2004). In
the ICT sector, the role of standards is particularly crucial, as
vital infrastructural elements such as telecommunications, the
Internet and the Web literally cannot exist without common
agreement on, and universal implementation of, enabling protocols
and other standards.
"Moreover, private sector standards are often incorporated by
reference into laws. But unlike public laws and regulations,
standards are developed within a process that is not only
self-regulating, but also largely unsupervised, except by those
that directly participate. As a result, the success or failure of
private sector standards development is highly dependent upon
trust. If those that participate conclude that abusing the system
is too easy to accomplish, and that such abuse is too lightly
punished if discovered, then the entire system can find itself in
danger of collapse, because the risks of participation and adoption
of standards become greater than the benefits to be gained. Were
such a collapse to occur, virtually no aspect of society would be
immune from the consequences."
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