Execs to define e-commerce guidelines

Chief executives from some of the world's largest telecommunications, media and computing firms will assemble in Paris today to try to establish industry-defined guidelines that they say are necessary to allow electronic commerce to flourish.

The initiative, called the Global Business Dialogue on E-Commerce (GBDe), was launched officially in January. Its main goal is to prevent a situation in which local governments create a patchwork of conflicting policies and laws that could create obstacles to the emerging online economy.

"We thought we could look at across-the-board issues coming up in global e-commerce and try to establish a truly global position for the industry to build upon," said Bob Kirkwood, director of government and educational affairs with Hewlett-Packard Co., which is represented on the GBDe.

Among those scheduled to speak next week are Gerald Levin, chief executive officer of Time Warner Inc., and Thomas Middlehoff, CEO of Bertelsmann AG, as well as senior executives from Fujitsu Ltd. and Telefonica SA. Also attending will be U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

The GBDe has identified nine areas, including taxation and tariffs, intellectual property rights, consumer confidence, and authentication and security, where they say uniform guidelines are needed to foster online commerce. Working groups within the GDBe have prepared papers on each of the issues, which will be summarized in oral presentations today.

More information about the GBDe, and about the summit, is on the World Wide Web at www.gbde.org.

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