US Federal Trade Commission chairman Robert Pitofsky has urged business and government to stay abreast of the new issues of international jurisdiction and legal remedies which the spread of ecommerce has sparked.
“Commerce on the Internet is one of the most amazing developments to affect business in the last 100 years,” Pitofsky told delegates at the annual conference of the Internet Law and Policy Forum (ILPF) in Montreal earlier this week.
While it might not be easy to resolve jurisdiction issues relating to cross border ecommerce, a concerted effort was needed from all parties, he said.
“There must be a range of ways to address these issues, including the use of existing law, development of new laws, if required, better consumer education, and industry self regulation,” Pitofsky said.
Pitofsky was one of several high profile speakers at the two-day event, which attracted international delegates from business, government, consumer protection agencies and the legal fraternity.
The conference sought to promote debate about policy considerations and practical global solutions to the issues of cross border jurisdiction and consumer protection in the borderless world of ecommerce.
ILPF executive director Ruth Day said the growth of ecommerce had raised uncertainties about governments’ territorial based powers.
"Buyers and sellers want to know whether traditional legal protections apply to reach a party which does not live up to its contractual obligations, even if that party is in another country," Day said.
"Governments want to know what impact these cross border transactions will have on fundamental powers, most notably to raise tax and tariff revenue and to guard citizens against harm."
The ILPF is a non-profit organisation which was established in 1995 by organisations which were interested in fostering the growth of ecommerce. It aims to bridge the gap between existing laws and those that are needed to develop and manage the online economy.
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