iWeek 2006: Dr Tracy Cohen – Credibility in telecoms regulation

Dr Tracy Cohen is a Councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa since 1994.Dr. Cohen is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Graduate School of Public and Development Management and sits on the editorial board for the South African Journal of Information and Communication. She is also an advisory panel member for Privacy International.

In her remarks Tracy welcomed ISPA ‘s “constructive and fruitful” participation, but for those who want liberalisation she warned that ‘regulation will always be here’ to deal with scarce resources and competing interest in the industry. She encouraged the ISPA that institutions will always matter at most, credibility implies mutual relationship between regulators and regulated. Even though governments operate within high bureaucracies, Tracy promised the ISPA that regulation will strive to be more consultative and open, the works of ISPA should therefore be “much more inclusive” and show some signs of “a true representative consumer lobbying” on the other hand.

Like elsewhere in the world, regulation always had unintended results, some will venture as other will be more marginalised .She further stated that the old first come first serve was not working on licensing, a new form is therefore desired. On the use of new technologies Tracy argued that, “if is not illegal it shouldn’t be blocked”- while issuing a warning of interference saying that indeed “let regulators regulate and managers manage” quoting Theodore Vail. Despite a lot of media publicity on ICASA ‘s lack of credibility within itself, we can theoretically expect more, but bureaucracies will always down play some liberalisation and radical change within the regulatory regimes.