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[FYI] EU Commission's analysis of the Y2K problem
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- From: "Axel H. Horns" <Horns@t-online.de>
- Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 18:44:44 +0200
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CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 1999.
Record Control Number: 13568
Category: General policy
The potential havoc that may be unleashed on enterprises by the
millennium bug has been well documented, but the affects on consumers
have so far been neglected. A report produced for the European
Commission, DG XXIV, entitled 'Y2K bug and the consumer' hopes to
redress the balance.
The report, prepared by Berlioz and Co, claims the European consumer
may have to deal with substantial problems. 'Since the consumer is
the end-user of products and services, he is not content with noting
the adaptation by enterprises of their computer and electronic
systems. The enterprises' difficulties will reverberate on their
consumers, they will manifestly be the victims of difficulties in
transition to the year 2000.'
An in-depth analysis of the potential consequences consumers might
face is included in the report, which provides advice on what
precautions can be taken and what remedies are available.
It claims that the extent of the bug is so huge that correction can
only be partial - bugs will continue to nestle in hardware,
programmes and micro processors, the effects of which will be
difficult to predict. Consumers will be directly vulnerable from
these potential errors, and should therefore take precautions to
minimise the damage. Consumers should be aware of the legal
protections that exist, including commercial guarantee, certificates
The legal weapons provided by consumer law, law of sale, and ordinary
laws of availability vary significantly between the different Member
States, although European directives have attempted to achieve a
degree of harmonisation.
The risks are highest in the food and medical sectors, according to
the report, where the consequences could be fatal. Where the risks
are so high, consumers may wish to take their own precautions, and
the report provides advice accompanied by an analysis of the legal
Vulnerability will be particularly high on critical dates, of which
there are many, and may lead to a domino effect. Although legal
protection exists, the amount of legal actions in such a situation
could topple the enterprises involved. The report outlines the need
for Member States to sensitise consumers who 'without giving in to a
wave of panic, have to prepare, be vigilant and try to avoid the
damage rather than have to obtain an indemnification.'
The potentially disastrous millennium bug refers to the possibility
of mass computer failure, arising because most timing devices only
acknowledge the last two digits of the year and may therefore
interpret the century change incorrectly.
Data Source Provider: European Commission, DG XXIV
Document Reference: Final report - 'Y2K Bug and the Consumer'.
Subject Index Codes: Information Processing, Information Systems
A copy of this report can be downloaded from the DG XXIV website, at: