Oregon rates as e-friendliest

A new study found that Oregon leads the 50 states and the District of Columbia

in promoting laws, regulations and actions that spur e-commerce, e-government

and digital signatures.

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), a Washington, D.C., think tank,

examined how each state imposed laws that protect specific industries, taxed

Internet access, promoted electronic interaction with the government and

recognized legally binding electronic signatures.

Specifically, the institute scored the states on whether their laws

and regulations facilitated telemedicine and permitted consumers to purchase

contact lenses, prescription drugs, mortgages, insurance, cars and wine

and participate in auctions online.

The institute used the Progress and Freedom Foundation's "The Digital

State 2000" report as a basis for ranking states on how far they've progressed

electronically and also looked at how many states enacted the Uniform Electronic

Transactions Act (UETA) or similar legislation promoting digital signatures.

The PPI report said Oregon is the "nation's best state for Internet

users" because residents don't have to pay Internet usage taxes and they

can buy wine and prescription drugs and acquire mortgages online with few

restrictions. The state also provides above-average electronic interaction

between the government and residents.

Following Oregon are Utah, Indiana, Louisiana and Iowa. Ranked lowest

is South Carolina, followed by New Mexico, Alabama, California and North

Carolina. The report also said there are differences regionally. The Pacific

region (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California) and the West

South Central states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) are friendlier

to e-consumers than other parts of the country.

But there is room for improvement. The report recommends that states

should:

* Avoid protectionist regulations by repealing laws "prohibiting, limiting

or hindering" online sales.

* Promote uniformity or cross-border reciprocal arrangements in licensing

requirements.

* Create a more customer-centric e-government, via portals for example.

* Adopt UETA to enable the use of digital signatures.

* Eliminate taxes on Internet access, which are a "nuisance that raise

little revenue," according to the report.

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