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Tuesday, April 14, 1998 Published at 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK

Special Report

No time left to fix Millennium Bug?
image: [ Many experts say there is not enough time to fix the Millennium Bug ]
Many experts say there is not enough time to fix the Millennium Bug

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair will tell businessmen on Monday they need to do more to prepare for the Millennium Bug.

Speaking at a conference, organised by Midland Bank and entitled "Tackling the Millennium Bug", he is expected to tell them time is precious and action crucial to prevent serious losses or even business failures.

Many computers and electronic devices count only the last two digits of the year, e.g. '98 instead of 1998.

Therefore they cannot read 2000 as a valid date. Thinking it is 1900 they may corrupt data, crash programs or fail to operate at all.

Many hotels and businesses are planning to close down on December 31, 1999 and companies all over the world are working on how to insure the problem does not destroy their IT systems.

Don Cruikshank, Chair of Action 2000: Business has to be ready for the Millennium bug
The British Government has set up a campaign group, Action 2000, to raise awareness for the problem.

But Campaigner Robin Guenier says that with just 21 months to go before January 2000 there is simply not enough time to get all affected computer systems fixed.

[ image: Tony Blair does not want Britain to grind to a halt on January 1, 2000]
Tony Blair does not want Britain to grind to a halt on January 1, 2000
He warns that now work must begin on vast contingency plans - the kind used in times of epidemics or conflicts - to ensure the impact of the year 2000 issue is minimised as far as possible.

Mr Guenier believes there will be widespread disruption to utilities and transport which will affect everybody, whether they use a computer or not.

He says: "It is now fanciful to pretend that the problem will be solved. It is quite simply too late.

"If we start now a great deal can be done to minimise the disruption to people's lives."

Mr Guenier, who is executive director of Taskforce 2000, which has been campaigning for two years on this issue, believes the British government is slowly "waking up" to the seriousness of the problem.

He says: It's almost as though they are agreeing with everything I say - only several months after I say it. Now they are giving out the same sort of warnings that I was giving people before Christmas."

Gwynneth Flower, director of the government's own taskforce Action 2000, disagrees with Mr Guenier's analysis but acknowledges it is too late to fix everything.

She says: "We are too late to have a totally trouble-free transition to the new millennium.

"The millennium is a problem that will affect every man, woman and child in the world.

"We must prioritise our actions to make sure that the most vital computers systems are fixed, and leave the rest for later," says Ms Flower.

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Year 2000 Computer Crisis Information Centre

Year 2000 problem

International symposium on the year 2000

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In this section

Millennium Bug could cripple governments and health services

Millennium bug to hit more than computers

Y2K: who will save developing world?

IT army to prevent 'digital doomsday'

1998 Contents
- Care in the community
- Sri Lanka
- Drugs in sport
- Millennium Dome
- WEF Davos
- Health
- Diana
- 04/98
- Karla Faye Tucker
- EU Enlargement
- Five Nations
- Asian economic crises
- London Referendum
- Water Week
- Romanov
- Pope in Cuba
- South Korea
- Chinese New Year
- Harley Davidson
- Woodward
- Car Crash
- Northern Ireland
- Elgar
- Super Bowl XXXII
- Kosovo
- Gulf War Syndrome
- Hooligans
- Bloody Sunday
- Food Agency
- Encryption
- Bon Appetit
- Eurasia 98
- US abortion rights
- liberal democrats
- Valentine
- Welfare Reform
- Australian Republic
- 1970s
- India Elections
- Viagra

03/98 Contents






shooting tp




US shooting




Asem 2




Russian crisis




millennium bug


russian mafia


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