Electronic commerce needs a light but swift hand from government, said hi-tech leaders this week as they appealed against taxes on the Internet and restrictions on software exports.
Established in 1994 to look at technology issues, the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP) is composed of 11 chief executives from companies including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Digital, Sun, Compaq and Data General. Its report on electronic commerce unsurprisingly recommends that government keeps its hands off except where legislation will speed up adoption or clarify legal issues.
"CSPP believes it is critical to develop a broad domestic and international consensus. Failure to do so could result in an electronic marketplace stifled by a random patchwork of thousands of differing laws and interpretations," stated the report.
Highlighted for criticism is the government's work in the area of telecommunications, which the report said has failed to encourage availability and quantity of bandwidth to enable easy consumer and business access to online commerce.
The collection of CEOs also appealed to Congress for a moratorium on any new Internet sales taxes until a single national standard is adopted by state and federal government. At the same time, consumer and business law should be updated to cover and provide equal protection for the Internet.
The report also continues the IT industry's criticism of government and Congressional support for restrictions on exports of encryption software, arguing that for electronic commerce to progress, it must be protected from criminal attack.
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