Users will be forced to check their computers for Year 2000 compliance if a proposed new Bill gets the green light from parliament.
The government was due to vote on the far-reaching Bill as PC Week went to press.
The Companies (Millennium Computer Compliance) Bill is being tabled by David Atkinson, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East. Atkinson warned that parliament has no choice but to legislate now if UK business is to avoid widespread problems.
The Bill, an amendment to the Companies Act 1985, proposes that every company assesses the capacity of all their computer systems for Year 2000 compliance at the end of each financial year. Companies would then have to publish this information in their end-of-year financial reports.
Computer systems covered by the Bill include all types of hardware, not just mainframes. Systems must be programmed to recognise and accurately deal with calendar dates later than 31 December 1999. Semiconductor chips will also have to comply.
In terms of PCs this will affect the BIOS ROM software, which reads the time and date from the clock chip. Even as late as last year, PC manufacturers were still shipping machines that were not Year 2000 compliant because their BIOS' worked on a two-digit year code.
The Millennium issue is already gaining momentum in corporate UK. A survey of 100 IT directors from Times 1,000 sites, conducted by Business Link London City Partners, found that 58% of IT managers plan to achieve Year 2000 compliance by December 1998.
- See Leader page 22.
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