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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release November 29, 1999


Vice President Gore today announced a new initiative to identify laws and regulations that impose barriers to the growth of electronic commerce and recommend ways to revise them.

Removing Barriers to Electronic Commerce

Under this new initiative, embodied in a memorandum to Federal agencies issued today by President Clinton, a working group will invite public comment on Federal, State and local laws and regulations that may obstruct or hinder electronic commerce. Federal agencies and representatives of State and local governments will also be invited to identify barriers and propose solutions. The working group will recommend revisions that will facilitate electronic commerce while also ensuring that consumers and the public have a level of protection in electronic commerce that is equivalent to that which they now enjoy in the offline world.


This new e-commerce initiative comes on the heels of the biggest holiday shopping day of the year. 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]

A Strong Record of Promoting Electronic Commerce and Protecting Consumers

Vice President Gore has worked hard to promote electronic commerce and build consumer confidence in the online marketplace. Together with the President, he has 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 potential.

Administration accomplishments include:

E-Commerce -- More Important Than Ever

New technologies are forever changing the way we live, the way we learn and the way we work. Today more Americans make computers than make cars. More Americans build semiconductors than construction machinery. More Americans spend their days processing data than refining petroleum. In fact, a full third of GDP growth in the past year came from information technology industries.

At the heart of this economic transformation is the Internet. When the President first asked the Vice President to oversee the administration's efforts in communications and technology, the Internet was only a tool for a few researchers and scientists. Now more than 100 million people around the world use the Internet to stay in touch with distant friends and family, research important topics, follow the news, or explore new places.

However, the Internet's most lasting impact may just be beginning to unfold. The information superhighway promises to utterly transform commercial transactions -- how we buy and sell the goods and services that make up our lives. Already, thousands of new businesses are setting up shop on the Internet. Soon, you'll be able to buy almost anything online. You'll be able to find the best price in the world almost instantly from your home computer. And you'll be able to do it in a virtual shopping mall that is open all day, all night, all across the world.

In this emerging digital marketplace, nearly anyone with a good idea and little software can set up shop, and become the corner store for an entire planet. That promises to unleash a revolution in entrepreneurship and innovation -- a cascade of new products and services that today we can scarcely imagine. Many now estimate that by the beginning of the new century, electronic commerce will grow to account for hundreds of billions of dollars a year in sales. And there is no end in site -- traffic on the Internet is now doubling every 100 days.

That is why we must remain vigilant in our efforts to remove barriers that can stifle the growth of the Internet and of electronic commerce, while doing more to ensure that consumers have confidence in this new medium. This new initiative seeks to do just that. Taken together with the administration's other efforts, we are opening up a new era of economic possibility and progress by helping to ensure that commerce goes digital, that business goes global, and that innovation goes wild.