The Clinton administration has called for governments worldwide to promote global e-commerce and is again advocating a hands-off approach to the Internet.
Its latest policy document, which was released on Monday, is a follow-up to last year?s Framework for Electronic Commerce. It reaffirms the administration?s earlier commitment not to regulate the Internet, but to allow the industry to issue guidelines itself.
This positioning statement has led to criticism from civil rights groups, which have been unhappy with the industry?s self-regulation attempts elsewhere in the field of privacy.
?We will do nothing that undermines the capacity of emerging technologies to lift the lives of ordinary Americans. And, secondly, in so far as we can, we will help to create an environment which will enhance the likelihood of success,? said Bill Clinton, US president, at the presentation of the report.
But he called for more consumer protection on the Internet, and as a result, has appointed Bill Daley, US Secretary of Commerce, to work with the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies, industry groups and consumer advocates, to develop new approaches to consumer protection.
?People should get what they pay for on-line; it should be easy to get redress if they don?t. We must give consumers the same protection in our virtual mall that they now get at the shopping mall,? Clinton added.
Another key plank in the new policy is the promise to include developing countries in the Internet revolution and Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, will head a new programme to that end.
The government also said it would build initiatives to stimulate small businesses to go online and to increase private sector investment in high-speed Internet technology.
Jack Staff, chief economist with Zona Research, said: ?We?re glad to see that the government has taken a laissez-faire attitude [towards the Internet],? although he added that it did not have much choice.
The administration?s push to internationalise e-commerce was ?a step in the right direction?, however, he continued: ?Certainly, pushing it up to the level of the Secretary of State will give this a new level of attention.?
But civil rights activists, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), were unhappy about the lack of specifics regarding the protection of users? privacy.
Deirdre Mulligan, staff counsel with the CDT, said: ?The report says that [the administration] will continue to monitor the self-regulatory activities. But there?s not enough concrete [information] on what are the deliverables and the delivery date.?
She was also concerned that the government did not spell out how it would monitor the industry?s attempts at self-regulation, and how and when it will evaluate them. It needed to set the industry clear targets and deadlines for privacy protection, and make clear how and when it would evaluate its performance.
The new report was the work of Ira Magaziner, the White House?s top technology adviser, who is stepping down at the end of the year.
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base
NatWest outage comes a day after Barclays' IT systems shut out customers and staff