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[FYI] UK-HoC: Electronic Commerce Inquiry


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29 January 1999. Thanks to DC.
Source: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/tipnt2A.htm 

 House of Commons

 Trade and Industry Committee 

 Trade and Industry Committee Press Notice No. 2A of Session 1998-99
 dated 15 January 1999 

                Electronic Commerce Inquiry: Guidelines for Witnesses 

 The House of Commons Select Committee on Trade and Industry announced
 an inquiry into electronic commerce on 3 December 1998 (see press
 notice No. 2). The committee is anxious to receive as wide a range of
 submissions as possible. 

   1.The Trade and Industry Committee scrutinises the work of the
   Department of Trade and Industry. Further
      background on the select committee system is available at

   2.The select committee has set itself a wide remit because the
   Government defines electronic commerce
      issues so widely. The committee may, during the course of its
      deliberations, decide to focus on some issues at the expense of

   3.Recent documents of relevance to the inquiry include DTI's Net
   Benefit document at
      http://www.dti.gov.uk/CII/netbenefit.html; the Secure Electronic
      Commerce Statement at http://www.dti.gov.uk/CII/ana27p.html; Our
      Information Age at http://www.number-10.gov.uk; the recent
      Competitiveness White Paper at
      http://www.dti.gov.uk/comp/competitive/; and the various DTI
      consultation papers on trusted third parties. In addition, there
      is a joint Inland Revenue/Customs and Excise paper on taxation
      issues at http://www.nds.coi.gov.uk and information on the
      government.direct initiative at http://www.citu.gov.uk 

   4.There are two useful papers published by POST (the Parliamentary
   Office of Science and Technology)
      POST 114 on internet commerce and POST 110 on electronic
      government. These are available as downloadable PDFs from

   5.The Government is due shortly to produce a consultation paper on
   its proposed secure electronic
      commerce Bill, which will be one of the foci of the committee's
      inquiry. The committee would welcome submission of responses
      made to the consultation. 

   6.Members of Parliament daily receive a mass of papers. If a
   memorandum is to command their attention, it
      should be brief and to the point. In particular, it should
      address the matters raised by the committee's inquiry and
      concentrate on the issues with which the witness has a special
      interest. A typical length would be about 1,000 words. Essential
      statistics or further details can be added as appendices. 

   7.Memoranda should be submitted on white A4 paper, single-sided,
   with each page (including appendices)
      numbered. Ideally, paragraphs should also be numbered. Memoranda
      should be dated, with the name, address and telephone number of
      the person in the organisation who is responsible for submission
      given at the end. Memoranda should be submitted to the address
      at the end of this press notice. 

   8.It is at the committee's discretion to print any evidence it
   receives. Any information which a witness would
      not wish to be considered for publication should be clearly
      marked. The committee staff must be advised as soon as possible
      of any plans by witnesses to publish memoranda submitted to the

   9.The committee has asked for all written evidence to be submitted
   by 15 February, although extensions to
      that deadline will be considered. The committee may decide,
      having read a memorandum, to invite a witness to give oral

                                Some Issues of Interest 

 The committee indicated some of its major issues of interest in Press
 Notice No. 2. This supplementary information is intended to assist
 witnesses in the preparation of a memorandum, following on from that
 initial guidance. Although it would be helpful if submissions could
 reflect these issues, the committee would welcome other and
 additional approaches to the subject. The committee wishes to

 1. The Impact of Electronic Commerce 

      on consumers 
      on manufacturing industry, including existing users of EDI
      schemes on service industry, including retailers, the financial
      services and banking sectors, legal services providers,
      accountacy firms, computer services and software firms and
      internet service providers. on government, particularly in
      relation to various electronic government iniatives, the
      University for Industry, taxation issues, consumer protection,
      law enforcement and intelligence gathering. 

 The committee is interested in the relationship between electronic
 commerce and the strategy outlined in the Government's recent
 Competitiveness White Paper. It is also particularly concerned with
 the exploitation of electronic commerce by SMEs. 

 The committee would also be interested to hear from organisations
 which have dealt electronically with DTI or its associated executive
 agencies, including Companies House and the Patent Office. 

 2. Government Regulation 

      which Government regulations, or proposed regulations, are
      impeding the development of electronic commerce? in what areas
      would it be desirable for the Governement to introduce new
      regulations? in what areas could Government usefully encourage
      the development of electronic commerce_eg. telecommunications
      infrastructure? to what extent may Government regulation drive
      electronic commerce "off-shore" to relatively deregulated

 The implications of electronic commerce for intellectual property
 rights are of particular interest. 

 3. Secure Electronic Commerce Bill 

 The Government's consultation paper on the secure electronic commerce
 Bill will be one focus of the committee's inquiry. The committee
 intends to pursue a number of issues, including: 

      the extent to which legislation on the admissibility of digital
      signatures in UK courts is required; the propoposed special
      status for digital signatures certified by a licensed authority;
      and issues associated with the maintenance of authoritative
      electronic documents over time. the proposed licensing regime
      for certification authorities, including its benefits and costs,
      regulation and interaction with overseas services. issues
      associated with key escrow, including liability, privacy
      concerns and technological implications. 

 The committee would welcome submission of responses to the
 Government's consultation. 

 4. Global and European Policy Developments 

 The committee would wish to be appraised of the development of global
 and European policy on aspects of electronic commerce and the likely
 impact of such policy on the UK. 

 5. Technological Developments 

      what are the implications of the development of electronic
      commerce delivery modes other than the internet? what are the
      implications of the development of new forms of business which
      exist almost entirely on-line? what are the implications of the
      development of new forms of electronic payment systems? does
      Government have a role in promoting the development of systems
      which permit low value electronic transaction? to what extent
      should Government promote research into new developments
      associated with electronic commerce? 

 Evidence should be submitted to: 

 Clerk to the Trade and Industry Committee
 7 Millbank
 London SW1P 2JA 

 Direct line: 0171 219 5778 

 Previous reports and press notices (from Session 1996-97 onward) can
 be viewed on the internet. 


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