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Commerce Department Requests Comment on Electronic Commerce
Washington, DC, February 16, 2000 - The U.S. Commerce Department, on behalf of the "Subgroup on Legal Barriers to Electronic Commerce," has issued a release requesting public comment on policies, laws or regulations to help promote, and eliminate barriers to, electronic commerce, electronic services, and electronic transactions. Comments, which may be submitted online, are due by Friday, March 17, 2000.
The request for comment stems from an executive memorandum issued by President Clinton that recommends, among other things, a review of the laws and regulations significantly impeding various kinds of electronic transactions. The executive memorandum mandated that the U.S. Working Group on Electronic Commerce identify laws and regulations that impose barriers to the growth of electronic commerce, and recommend how these laws and regulations should be revised to facilitate the development of electronic commerce while ensuring that protection of the public interest (including consumer protection) equals that provided with respect to offline commerce. The Legal Barriers Subgroup was formed to carry out the President’s initiative.
The release requests comment on the following areas:
- electronic transactions, including business-to-business and consumer-to-business transfer of information, money, or other resources;
- merchandise sales;
- professional or other services offered by electronic means;
- multiple party regulation; and
- laws or regulations administered by any federal agency.
Specifically, the release requests comment, among other things, on whether any federal agency-administered law or regulation imposes an impediment to the conduct by electronic means of commercial transactions between a firm and any other non-governmental party or parties. If so, the release requests comment on whether applicable federal laws or regulations should be modified or clarified to eliminate such impediments or otherwise facilitate electronic commerce.
The release adds that commenters may wish to identify general areas in which barriers to electronic commerce result from state or local policies, laws, or practices; or from differing state and federal policies, laws, licensing requirements, standards or other practices. Commenters may also comment on whether increased coordination is needed between the federal and state governments to avoid unnecessary impediments to electronic commerce.
The release notes that the Legal Barriers Subgroup will not review laws and regulations in those areas where comprehensive activities are underway to remove regulatory or legal barriers to electronic commerce, such as:
- treaties, international laws, conventions or agreements, or the laws of countries other than the United States;
- tax laws or regulations;
- certain consumer protection regulations, as stated in the release; and
- issues being addressed pursuant to the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which mandates steps to be taken by the Federal Government to remove barriers to electronic communications with and within the Federal Government.