November 30, 1998
Washington -- The Clinton Administration has announced new steps to promote electronic commerce via the Internet, which is expected to grow exponentially during the next three years.
Since July 1997, "the number of Internet users has more than doubled to over 140 million people, information technology industries are now responsible for over one-third of the real growth in the U.S. economy, and electronic commerce is spreading rapidly, driving productivity improvements in virtually every sector of the economy," a White House statement on November 30 said.
The new measures include 1) protecting consumers from fraud, 2) encouraging private sector investment to speed up the delivery of voice, video and data, 3) urging small businesses to become Internet users, and 4) promoting Internet and electronic commerce in developing countries.
The U.S. Trade Representative, Charlene Barshefsky, has welcomed the new measures. "Our job is to ensure that the open environment in the United States which nurtured this unprecedented creation of wealth, employment, and `connectivity' becomes a global model for growth and opportunity, unhindered by trade barriers," Barshefsky said in a prepared statement.
During the past year and a half, the administration has moved to spur electronic commerce by imposing a three-year moratorium on Internet access taxes and other taxes on electronic commerce and persuading the World Trade Organization to suspend duties on electronic trade.
The U.S. Congress also has passed legislation that protects intellectual property in the online environment and encourages the government to move toward electronic filing and acceptance of electronic signatures.
Following is the text of the White House statment on electronic commerce:
(Note: "billion" in the text means 1,000 million.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCE NEW STEPS TO PROMOTE E-COMMERCE November 30, 1998
To keep America at the cutting edge of the Information Revolution, and to sustain the rapid growth of the "new economy," President Clinton today will ask Vice President Gore to continue to lead the Administration's efforts to promote electronic commerce and will direct several Cabinet agencies to make progress in five critical areas.
The President will note that the Internet and information technology are driving U.S. economic growth, lowering inflation, and creating high-wage jobs for Americans. Electronic commerce -- buying and selling goods and services on the Internet -- is projected to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars by 2002. Electronic commerce not only is good for businesses but also can put consumers in the driver's seat by giving them greater choice, greater convenience, more information, and the ability to easily find the lowest price and highest quality goods and services.
The success of electronic commerce was fueled in part by the Administration's strategy to facilitate the growth of electronic commerce. Since release of that strategy in the July 1997 A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce, the number of Internet users has more than doubled to over 140 million people, information technology industries are now responsible for over one-third of the real growth in the U.S. economy, and electronic commerce is spreading rapidly, driving productivity improvements in virtually every sector of the economy.
New Administration efforts the President will announce today will generate further growth in electronic commerce by:
Protecting consumers from cyber-fraud. Consumers should be confident that goods and services sold online are accurately represented, that they will get what they pay for, and that recourse will be available if they do not. The Commerce Department will work with the Federal Trade Commission to educate consumers, promote industry self-regulation, and ensure that existing laws against fraud can be enforced in the global marketplace.
Ending the "World Wide Wait." For many consumers and businesses, the World Wide Web has become the World Wide Wait. The information superhighway becomes a dirt path before it reaches America's homes. The Commerce Department and the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will work with the Federal Communications Commission to pursue policies that will increase private sector investment in high-speed networks capable of carrying voice, video and data.
Encouraging small businesses to get online. The Internet can help give a small business the global reach and presence of a multinational company. The Commerce Department and the Small Business Administration will encourage small businesses to get connected. For example, they will ensure that government information and services that are used by small businesses are available to them online.
Getting a clearer picture of the digital economy. The National Economic Council will lead an inter-agency effort to measure the impact of the Internet and electronic commerce on the U.S. and the global economy.
Promoting the Internet and electronic commerce in developing countries. The Secretary of State will initiate a program to spur the spread of the Internet and electronic commerce in developing countries.
Report on Administration Accomplishments
The President and Vice President also released a report that detailed the Administration's accomplishments over the last year and a half in promoting electronic commerce, or e-commerce, including passage of the following legislation that embodied many of the Administration's top e-commerce priorities:
The Internet Tax Freedom Act, which creates a 3-year moratorium on Internet access taxes and taxes that discriminate against e-commerce, and also establishes a commission to look at the long-term tax issues raised by e-commerce;
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which implements treaties on intellectual property protection that the Administration negotiated, and protects America's intellectual property in the online environment;
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires commercial Web sites to get a parent's permission before collecting personal information about children under 13;
The Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which encourages the government to move towards electronic filing and the acceptance of electronic signatures; and
The Next Generation Internet Research Act, which authorizes an initiative to connect universities at speeds that are 1,000 times faster than today's Internet, and conduct long-term research on Internet technologies.
In addition, the Administration:
-- made cyberspace a duty-free zone by winning an agreement in the World Trade Organization to place a moratorium on duties on electronic transmission;
-- moved to improve the security and reliability of cyberspace by focusing attention on the protection of critical infrastructures and addressing the year 2000 computer problem;
-- worked to make all of our children technologically literate by connecting every classroom and library to the Internet and training teachers to use technology with the "e-rate" (special discounts for schools and libraries for Internet access) and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund;
-- encouraged the Internet industry to protect individual privacy through self-regulation, third-party audits, and enforcement mechanisms;
-- successfully negotiated international agreements to promote electronic commerce with trading partners such as the European Union, Japan, France, Ireland, Australia, and a whole host of international organizations; and
-- moved towards the privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) by recognizing a new non-profit organization that will take over technical management of the DNS.