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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release November 29, 1999

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore today announced a new initiative to expand and improve electronic commerce by identifying and eliminating barriers to this emerging new marketplace.

This new e-commerce initiative comes on the heels of the biggest holiday shopping day of the year. During this holiday season, online shopping could exceed $9 billion with nearly three-fourths of all Internet users using it to help with their shopping.

The percentage of those online that plan to purchase at least one product over the Internet has increased from 8 percent in 1998 to 32 percent this year. In addition, e-commerce sales during the holidays are expected to double, and possibly triple, between 1998 and 1999. Overall, e-commerce could exceed $1.4 trillion by the year 2003.

Most commerce laws were written before the start of online commerce. By requiring in person transactions or paper documents, or by imposing licensing requirements or specific technical standards, these laws may have the unintended consequence of preventing some transactions from taking place online.

Under this new initiative, embodied in a memorandum to Federal agencies issued today by President Clinton, a working group will invite public comment on laws and regulations that may obstruct or hinder electronic commerce. 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. The working group will also solicit suggestions from Federal agencies and representatives of State and local governments.

"E-commerce is not only helping save consumers time and money and expand their choices, but it is also unleashing new potential for entrepreneurs," said Vice President Gore. "E-commerce opens a world of opportunities to those with good ideas and an Internet connection. But in order to meet the full potential of this new medium, we must look ahead and clear away the 20th century barriers that may inhibit 21st century commerce."