'Dismantling the Barriers to Global Electronic Commerce' was the rallying call at The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development?s (OECD) conference in Turku, Finland this week.
Attendees heard impassioned pleas from vendors and providers to ensure the Internet is not constrained by onerous regulation and static European telecomms infrastructures. Some cited rigid telecomms laws in Europe but others argued that US refusal to ship the most sophisticated encryption products are key barriers to the growth of ecommerce. Taxing the Net remains a top priority.
Johan Helsingius, EUnet International's director of product development and marketing, commenting on the discussions between providers and government bodies, said: "We feel the OECD Turku conference is a vital forum to help remove barriers to electronic commerce, an area we feel is crucial.?
The OECD wants to encourage ecommerce, but it is concerned about the potential for tax evasion and avoidance, and it is discussing the issues with IT and financial services organisations. All fiscal authorities are worried about the Internet effect on falling tax revenues. The OECD has acknowledged the extent of the problem, warning that ?it may pose a serious challenge to governments in maintaining their revenue base.?
The OECD wants vendors and service providers work closely, developing software to check Internet supply and payment chains, establishing clear audit trails for taxation.
Donald Johnston, Secretary-General of the OECD, concluded: ?We need to ensure broader access to the Internet, to establish trust for consumers through appropriate redress mechanisms and verifiable identities and a predictable context for taxation, electronic payments and international delivery... the reality is that Government treasuries should anyway be amply rewarded by the increase in profitable commercial activity which electronic commerce promises.?
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