Commerce Secretary Details E-Commerce Plans

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary William Daley plans to work with states and localities to identify and amend outdated commercial laws impeding the growth of e-commerce.

Daley's announcement Friday was part of an outline of Commerce's overall e-commerce activities for the upcoming year, delivered in an address to the Fairfax County, Va., Chamber of Commerce. He said Commerce is increasingly relying on the Internet to improve services and described how people can now apply for certain patents online as an example.

President Clinton has charged Commerce to find other legal barriers to e-commerce now that it appears Congress will pass legislation giving electronic signatures the same legal authority as pen-on-paper contracts.

"This year we'll be working with businesses and with states and localities to identify barriers in their laws," Daley said.

To help bridge the widening technology gap between the nation's rich and poor, Daley said Commerce will ask Congress for $28 million in 2001, doubling its spending on historically black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions.

Clinton is planning a spring tour around the country to address the digital divide, and Daley said he will make a similar trip to 12 cities, but specific dates and places have not yet been determined.

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