PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW ON-LINE CONSUMER PROTECTION TIPS AND
ENCOURAGES ON-LINE PHILANTHROPY
FOR HOLIDAY SEASON
With electronic commerce expected to reach record levels during the
holiday shopping season, in his weekly radio address President Clinton
will unveil "tips for online shoppers," and will announce a series of
private sector initiatives to help protect and educate the online
consumer. This holiday season, about 4 million American families will
buy gifts online for the first time. President Clinton will also urge
Americans to use the Internet to make this holiday season a record
season for giving as well as shopping. The President will commend
organizations and Internet companies that are making it easier for
Americans to use the Internet to find volunteer opportunities, make
on-line donations, gather information on non-profit organizations, or
give toys to underprivileged children.
The Growth of E-Commerce
In his weekly radio address, President Clinton will discuss the
remarkable rise of the Internet as a destination for holiday shopping -
and how the Clinton Administration is working to ensure that online
commerce will live up to its enormous promise. This holiday season,
shoppers will spend as much as $9.5 billion purchasing gifts and
products on-line [Harris Interactive], and as many as 1.3 billion people
will visit on-line shopping sites. [Industry Standard] The percentage of
the online population planning to purchase at least one product over the
Internet has increased from 8 percent last year to 32 percent this year.
[Harris Interactive] And, e-commerce sales during the holidays are
expected to double, and possibly triple, between 1998 and 1999.
[Industry Standard] Overall, e-commerce could exceed $1.4 trillion by
the year 2003. [Forrester Research]
Consumer education and protection will accelerate the growth of
electronic commerce by increasing consumer confidence in the online
marketplace. The explosion of the Internet and electronic commerce has
also strengthened the U.S. economy, with information technology
industries accounting for 1/3 of U.S. economic growth in the last three
years and generating high-wage jobs that pay almost 80 percent more than
the private sector average.
Tips for Online Shoppers
In his weekly radio address, the President will announce new
Federal Trade Commission consumer protection tips to help first-time
on-line shoppers. These tips encourage consumers to:
Know Your Merchant
It's a good practice to be familiar with the name or reputation of
any company you're dealing with. You can often find helpful
information about online companies from news sources, directories,
and rating services. A web site maintained by the Federal Trade
Commission (www.consumer.gov) provides many buyers' guides, lists of
tips, and links to helpful resources.
Protect Your Privacy
Know what information the merchant is collecting about you, how it
will be used and if they share it with or sell it to others. You can
do this by checking the web site to make sure there is a privacy
policy posted, and that you're comfortable with the way your personal
information is treated under that policy. Look for seals from
privacy enforcement organizations like TRUSTe, BBBOnLine or WebTrust.
Be cautious if you're asked to supply personal information not needed
to make a purchase, such as your Social Security number or personal
bank account information.
Get the Details.
Check for shipping and expected delivery dates, shipping and handling
fees, warranties, return policies and other important information.
Look for an e-mail address to write to or a phone number to call if
you have a question, a problem or need help.
Use a Credit Card and Safeguard Your Password.
It's a good practice to pay with credit cards, because your liability
for an unauthorized charge on your credit card bill is limited to $50
under federal law and under your credit card agreement. When using a
credit card online, make sure there is an unbroken key or padlock
usually located in the corner of the web page or a policy that
indicates use of strong security technology such as SSL. This
indicates that your credit card data is transmitted securely. Make
sure to keep your passwords secure, and don't share them with other
Keep Good Records.
Make sure to print or save electronically any records related to your
online transactions. This will help you keep track of shipping
dates, shipping and handling fees, and other details of your
New Private-Sector Actions to Protect Consumers
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have challenged the private
sector to protect and educate consumers in preparation for "e-shopping."
Below are just a few of the commitments that the private sector has
NetCoalition, a coalition of nine major Internet companies (Yahoo!,
theglobe.com, Lycos, Inktomi, Excite@Home, Ebay, DoubleClick, America
Online, and Amazon.com) will be answering questions about online privacy
using banner ads, links, and e-mail confirmations.
TRUSTe, one of the nonprofit Internet privacy seal program, is
issuing a video news release that will give consumers guidance on how to
best protect themselves while shopping online -- covering issues such as
privacy statements and children's privacy.
American Express has promised to take back any item purchased
on-line, up to $300 per item, from now until December 31st with an
American Express card.
MasterCard has teamed up with the National Consumer League to
launch a new consumer education initiative -- "BE E-Wise."
During this holiday season, President Clinton also challenged Americans
to use the Internet to help those in need and give something back to our
communities. Today, signing up to contribute time or money in your
community is as easy as turning on your computer. Already, foundations
and Internet companies have developed Web sites that are allowing
Find a volunteer opportunity in their community that matches their
skills and interests.
Donate toys to underprivileged children.
Donate funds to a non-profit organization with confidence by
downloading information on the effectiveness and performance of
Donate a percentage of their online purchases to charities.
Examples of these sites include http://www.helping.org,
http://www.guidestar.org, and http://www.volunteermatch.org.
A Strong Record of Promoting Electronic Commerce and Protecting
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked hard to promote
electronic commerce and build consumer confidence in the online
marketplace. They have supported private sector leadership and industry
self-regulation whenever possible, but have fought for new laws in some
areas such as children's privacy. In the upcoming weeks, the Vice
President will unveil a report detailing the Administration's progress
in promoting e-commerce, and new steps to help unleash its full
Administration accomplishments include:
Encouraging the private sector to protect individual privacy
through self-regulation, third-party audits and enforcement mechanisms.
In just over a year, the number of commercial Web sites with privacy
policies has jumped from 15% to 66%.
Fighting for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which
requires commercial Web sites to get a parent's permission before
collecting personal information.
Ensuring effective consumer protection online through industry
self-regulation, and the prosecution of fraudulent practices under
existing consumer protection laws.
Working to close the "digital divide" by tripling support for
Community Technology Centers in low-income and rural neighborhoods, and
ensuring that all students have access to educational technology. The
number of classrooms connected to the Internet has increased from 4
percent in 1994 to 51 percent in 1998.