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IP: Different Approaches to Privacy Issue: OECD

From: [email protected]
Subject: IP: Different Approaches to Privacy Issue: OECD
Date: Fri, 09 Oct 1998 16:28:03 -0500
To: [email protected]

Source:  USIA

09 October 1998 


(Resolved authentication issue on electronic signatures) (400)
By Bruce Odessey
USIA Staff Correspondent

Ottawa -- A conference of 29 industrialized countries for promoting
electronic commerce has resolved a controversy between the United
States and the European over Internet privacy by accepting both points
of view.

The United States contended industry should be left to manage the
problem by itself, but the European Union had demanded a government
regulatory approach.

"The adversity of views can produce compatible solutions," said John
Manley, Canadian minister of industry, who presided over the October
7-9 conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and

The language approved by the OECD said the governments "encourage the
adoption of privacy policies, whether implemented by legal,
self-regulatory, administrative or technological means."

In a statement issued in Washington U.S. Commerce Secretary William
Daley praised the conference work.

"Our self-regulatory approach can co-exist with approaches taken by
other governments so long as we focus on our common objective --
effective privacy protection," Daley said.

Again, on the issue of authenticating e-commerce signatures and
enforcing Internet contracts, the OECD was comfortable with different
approaches. The governments declared they would "take a
non-discriminatory approach to electronic authentication from other

The three-day conference held in Ottawa, Canada, was the first one
held by the OECD to include representatives from business, labor and
consumer groups as well as non-member governments.

Business representatives expressed satisfaction with the outcome, but
representatives of consumer groups were skeptical or hostile.

The OECD staff is required to complete draft guidelines in 1999 on
consumer protection.

The OECD emphasized development "of effective market driven
self-regulatory mechanisms that include input from consumer
representatives." But consumer advocates insisted that only
government-to-government agreements can protect consumer interests
when shoddy goods are ordered over the Internet and delivered across
national borders.

The conference also took some crucial decisions on taxation. Notably
the governments agreed to apply existing taxes to electronic commerce
and not to develop new taxes.

They also agreed to impose taxes at the place of consumption and not
at the place of production and to work out problems in defining the
place of consumption.

OECD Director-General Donald Johnston said he expected some sort of
follow up meeting at the working level and not at the ministerial
level within a year.

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