Clinton wants regulations updated for e-commerce

US president Bill Clinton has ordered the creation of a federal task force to update regulations in ways that assist e-commerce while protecting consumer privacy.

The working group, led by the US Department of Commerce, will identify federal, state and local laws and regulations that hinder e-commerce growth, and recommend how they can be revised, the White House memorandum said.

Most commerce laws were written before the start of online commerce. For example, by requiring in-person transactions or paper documents, these laws may have the unintended consequence of preventing some online transactions.

"It is essential for consumers and the health of the economy that government facilitate not only retail activity, which has increased substantially, but also the movement to the online environment of other categories of transactions," Clinton said.

Clinton said the government needs to ensure that consumers and businesses have a level of protection in e-commerce that is equivalent to that which they now enjoy in the off-line world.

Within 60 days, the working group will ask for public comment on these issues, especially consumer protection. State and local governments will also be asked for input.

The findings will be reported to the president in a "timely manner," the memo said.