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US Govt Request for E-Barrier Info

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 12:35:40 -0800
Message-ID: <0A005268C8DED311A23E0008C75D1EFF476004@sj-exchange.ci.sj.ca.us>
To: "'W3C interest group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
To Members of the List,
Please note the enclosed request from the US Department of Commerce for
information regarding all laws, regulations and policies that need to be
adapted to remove barriers to e-commerce in the US.  Notice was published
February 1 and Comments are due by March 17.  

Cynthia D. Waddell
ADA Coordinator
City of San Jose
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65 FR 4801-01
2000 WL 102425 (F.R.)
(Cite as: 65 FR 4801)


NOTICES

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Office of the General Counsel; Laws or Regulations Posing Barriers to
Electronic Commerce

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

*4801  AGENCY:  Department of Commerce.

ACTION:  Notice: Request for public comment on laws or regulations posing
barriers to electronic commerce.

SUMMARY:  The Department of Commerce, on behalf of the Subgroup on Legal
Barriers to Electronic Commerce ("Legal Barriers Subgroup") of the U.S.
Government Working Group on Electronic Commerce, requests public comments
and suggestions concerning policies, laws or regulations that need to be
adapted in order to eliminate barriers to and promote electronic commerce,
electronic services, and electronic transactions.

DATES:  Comments are requested by March 17, 2000.

ADDRESSES:  Comments may be submitted via the Web at
http://www.ecommerce.gov/ebarriers/respond.   Alternatively, electronic
submissions may be sent as documents attached to E-mail messages addressed
to ebarriers@ita.doc.gov. Submissions made as E-mail attachments or
submitted on floppy disks should be in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word or ASCII
format.  Diskettes should be labeled with the name of the party and the name
and version of the word processing program used to create the document.
Paper submissions may be mailed to the Subgroup on Legal Barriers to
Electronic Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and
Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 2815, Washington D.C. 20230. If possible,
paper submissions should include floppy disks in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word
or ASCII format.  Except for floppy disks with paper submissions, duplicate
copies should not be submitted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Kenneth Clark, phone: 202-482-3843; E-mail
kclark@doc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

 On November 29, 1999, President Clinton issued a Presidential Memorandum to
the Heads of Executive Branch Departments and Agencies entitled
"Facilitating the Growth of Electronic Commerce." The President noted that
the rapid growth of the Internet and its increasing use throughout the world
for electronic commerce holds great promise for American consumers and for
the Nation. Consumers will have significantly greater choice and convenience
and will benefit from enhanced competition for their business.  To realize
this promise, the President said, it is essential that government facilitate
"not only retail activity, which has increased substantially, but also the
movement to the online environment of other categories of transactions."
 The President noted that laws and regulations developed before the advent
of electronic commerce may significantly impede consumers and businesses in
conducting various kinds of transactions electronically.  These impediments
can involve requirements that particular types of transactions be conducted
on paper or in person, or that records be maintained or provided in written
form. They may also include regulatory, statutory or licensing requirements,
or technical standards and other policies, that hinder electronic commerce
or otherwise require business or transactions to be conducted in a way that
discriminates against the online environment.
 Such requirements and policies must therefore be reviewed and, where
appropriate, adapted to the new electronic environment.  But the President
noted that in making these adaptations, it is essential to ensure that
electronic commerce is as safe for consumers as traditional forms of
commerce.
 To implement these objectives, the President mandated that the United
States Government Working Group on Electronic Commerce: (1) Identify laws
and regulations that impose barriers to the growth of electronic commerce,
and (2) recommend how these laws and regulations should be revised to
facilitate the development of electronic commerce, while ensuring that
protection of the public interest (including consumer protection) is
equivalent to that provided with respect to offline commerce.  The President
mandated that the Commerce Department lead a subgroup to implement this
work, and the Subgroup on Legal Barriers to Electronic Commerce has been
formed to carry out those responsibilities.
 The President directed the Subgroup to invite the public to participate in
this effort by identifying laws or regulations that may obstruct, hinder or
discriminate against electronic commerce, including those that should be
modified on a priority basis.  The Subgroup was also charged with inviting
public comment on how such laws and regulations could be adapted to the
electronic environment while ensuring that public interest protections will
be equivalent to those now provided in offline commerce.  This Notice and
Request for Comment implements those directives.

Scope of This Request

Areas of Focus for the Working Group

Electronic Transactions

 These include business-to-business and consumer-to-business transfer of
information, money, or other resources.  (Note that transactions between
government agencies and the public are excluded from this review because
they are being addressed as to federal agencies pursuant to the Government
Paperwork Elimination Act.)

Merchandise Sales

 The Legal Barriers Subgroup is interested in all types of policy, legal and
regulatory impediments to electronic commerce and invites comment on any
that may be identified.  Conducting business in the sale of goods on the
Internet may involve a wide range of issues besides the actual transaction,
from incorporation and notice requirements to warranty or liability
policies. Respondents are invited to comment on such issues and to identify
policies, laws or regulations that may impede the offering of goods for sale
electronically.  Comments are also requested concerning how such barriers
could be removed while ensuring that equivalent consumer protections to
those guaranteed in traditional commerce will apply to the sale of goods
online.

Offering Services
 Comment is also invited concerning the provision of professional or other
services by electronic means.  Such services differ from industry to
industry, but may be dependent on certain statutory or regulatory
frameworks. Respondents are invited to comment on whether these frameworks
discriminate against the provision of services by electronic means or make
electronic provision of services more difficult.  Respondents are also
invited to discuss how best to adapt these frameworks appropriately to the
online environment.

Multiple Party Regulation

 The Committee is especially interested in comments on regulations governing
the relationship or exchange of information between different categories of
private parties (e.g., between banks and students or insurance companies and
doctors).  Respondents are invited to comment on regulatory provisions that
address communication between parties, whether these provisions impede *4802
electronic commerce due to requirements for written documentation or other
actions that create a disincentive to electronic information transfer, and
how such impediments could be removed while still protecting the public
interest.

Independent Agencies Included Within the Scope of the Inquiry

 This request invites comments concerning laws or regulations administered
by any federal agency, as the President's Memorandum invites participation
in the Working Group by independent agencies concerned with its work.  Any
comments concerning laws or regulations administered by independent agencies
will be forwarded to those agencies for their consideration.

Areas of Law and Regulation Excluded

 This request for comment focuses on domestic laws or regulations that may
adversely affect electronic commerce (although the potential effects of such
laws or regulations on cross-border commerce are relevant to this inquiry
and may be included in any response).  However, the Legal Barriers Subgroup
will refrain from reviewing laws and regulations in areas where
comprehensive activities are already underway to remove regulatory or legal
barriers to electronic commerce.  Areas excluded from this inquiry include
the following:
 (1) Treaties, international laws, conventions or agreements, or the laws of
countries other than the United States.
 (2) Tax laws or regulations.
 (3) The following consumer protection regulations, which are subject to
current rulemaking proceedings of the Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve: Regulation B, relating to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
Regulation E, relating to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act; Regulation M,
relating to the Consumer Leasing Act; Regulation Z, relating to the Truth in
Lending Act; and Regulation DD, relating to the Truth in Savings Act.
 (4) Issues being addressed pursuant to the Government Paperwork Elimination
Act, which mandates steps to be taken by the Federal Government to remove
barriers to electronic communications with and within the Federal
government.
 Note concerning State or local laws and regulations: Barriers to electronic
commerce may arise simply from a lack of uniformity in policies, laws,
standards or codes among different jurisdictions.  Although we do not
request comments about individual state or local laws or regulations,
respondents may wish to identify general areas in which barriers to
electronic commerce result from State or local policies, laws, or practices;
or from differing State and federal policies, laws, licensing requirements,
standards or other practices. Respondents also may wish to comment on
whether increased coordination is needed between the Federal and State
governments to avoid unnecessary impediments to electronic commerce.

Basic Questions for Public Comment

 Comments on any issue within the scope of this inquiry are welcome.
However, responses to the following specific questions would be most helpful
to the Working Group.
 1.  Does any federal agency-administered law or regulation impose an
impediment to the conduct by electronic means of commercial transactions
between you or your firm, company or organization and any other
non-government party or parties? (Be as specific as possible in citing or
otherwise identifying the law or regulation.)
 2.  If so:
 (a) What is the degree of the impediment? (For example, does it completely
bar the transaction from occurring electronically, or does it make the
transaction more difficult, expensive, or time-consuming without barring it
altogether?)
 (b) What is the nature of the impediment? (For example, is it a
recordkeeping requirement, a "written notice" requirement, or some other
type of requirement?)
 (c) Can you provide information as to the costs that are associated with or
result from the legal or regulatory impediment?
 (d) What do you understand to be the reason for imposing the requirement
that causes the impediment?
 (e) Can you suggest alternative ways, other than through the requirement
that causes the impediment, by which the agency could achieve the goal of
the requirement? (Most helpful would be examples that work in other
contexts.)
 (f) Can you suggest ways in which the requirement can be modified to remove
or reduce the impediment while continuing to provide consumer protections
for electronic transactions that are equivalent to those that exist for
offline transactions.

Additional Issues or Questions for Public Comment

 3.  Do federal laws or regulations in any particular field or area
generally impose significant impediments to the conduct of commercial
transactions by electronic means? If so, please indicate how they result in
such impediments and provide any suggestions you may have to remove or
reduce the impediments, while achieving the purposes of the laws or
regulations and maintaining equivalent consumer protections.
 4.  Are there particular federal laws or regulations that should be
modified on a priority basis because they currently inhibit electronic
commerce that is otherwise ready to take place? In responding to this and
other questions, you are urged to take into account cross-border
transactions that are now likely to occur electronically.
 5.  Are there federal laws or regulations that should be clarified to
facilitate electronic commerce by preserving important public interests in
the area of online commerce such as consumer protection, civil rights or law
enforcement?
 6.  Are there federal laws or regulations that constitute disproportionate
or particular barriers to electronic commerce for small businesses? If so,
are there changes or solutions you can suggest that would enable small
businesses to engage more easily in electronic commerce?
 7.  To the extent that the adaption of laws or regulations to the
electronic environment requires electronic notices or disclosures, can you
offer specific suggestions as to formatting or other requirements for such
notices or disclosures to ensure that they are conspicuous and will be
received and understood?
 8.  From the standpoint of consumers, are there federal laws or regulations
that have already been adapted to the electronic environment in a manner
that has resulted in a lessening of consumer protections--including
protections against fraud, or against over-reaching by unscrupulous or
exploitative entities? If so, what is the degree of the harm involved, or
the amount of cost imposed?
 9.  Are there federal laws or regulations that have already been adapted to
the electronic environment in a manner that has resulted in a lessening of
other public-interest protections, such as those involving health, safety or
the environment?
 10. Have you encountered areas in which barriers to electronic commerce
result from: (a) Particular subject areas or types of State laws; (b) a lack
of uniformity, or conflicts, among State laws; or (c) differing or
conflicting State and federal laws?
 11. Have you encountered impediments to electronic commerce that stem from
licensing requirements, technical standards, codes, or other policies? If
yes, what are they and how could they be removed? *4803
 12. Have you encountered impediments to electronic commerce that stem from
a lack of uniformity in such requirements, standards, codes, or other
policies among State or local governments or between them and the Federal
Government?

Specificity of Responses and Comments
 Comments and responses to the questions posed in this notice will be most
helpful if they are specific in (1) identifying federal laws or regulations
imposing impediments to electronic commerce, and (2) estimating costs
associated with these impediments through reduced sales or business
efficiency.  The Working Group would appreciate receiving suggestions for
modifying the law, regulation or policy to reduce or remove the impediments,
or alternative ways (other than through the provision at issue) by which the
agency could achieve the goal of the provision while maintaining consumer
and public protections equivalent to those provided for transactions taking
place by non-electronic means.  Questions 1 and 2, above, provide an example
of the degree of detail in responses that would be most helpful.

Publication

 Comments will be published online at
http://www.ecommerce.gov/ebarriers/review.  Respondents should not submit
materials that they do not desire to be made public.
 Authority: Presidential Memorandum, "Facilitating the Growth of Electronic
Commerce," dated November 29, 1999.

 Dated: January 27, 2000.

Andrew J. Pincus,

General Counsel, Department of Commerce.

[FR Doc. 00-2198 Filed 1-31-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-BW-U

65 FR 4801-01, 2000 WL 102425 (F.
---------------------------------------------------
Cynthia D. Waddell   
ADA Coordinator
City Manager Department
City of San Jose, CA USA
801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, CA  95110-1704
(408)277-4034
(408)971-0134 TTY
(408)277-3885 FAX
http://www.rit.edu/~easi/webcast/cynthia.htm
http://www.aasa.dshs.wa.gov/access/waddell.htm 
Received on Monday, 14 February 2000 15:37:34 GMT

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