Clinton Urges Gov't Officials To Boost Virtual Mall Growth

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President Clinton called for more consumer protection on the Internet during a White House ceremony this week in which he asked Vice President Al Gore and Cabinet agencies to make progress on several issues critical to the growth of e-commerce.

"We must give consumers the same protection in our virtual mall they now get at the shopping mall," he said as he asked the Commerce Department to work with the Federal Trade Commission to educate consumers, promote industry self-regulation and ensure that existing laws against fraud can be enforced online.

Clinton also urged the Commerce Department, the office of the United States Trade Representative and the Federal Communications Commission to pursue policies that will increase private sector investment in high-speed networks capable of carrying more data.

"If the virtual mall is to grow, we must help small businesses and families gain access to the same services and that big business enjoys," he said. "For many people, connections are so slow that shopping at the virtual mall is filled with frustration. It is as if they had to drive over dirt roads to get to the mall only to find an endless line of customers just waiting to get into the door."

Clinton also called on:

* Commerce officials and leaders at the Small Business Administration to encourage small businesses to get online.

* The Secretary of State to initiate a program to spur the spread of the Internet and e-commerce in developing countries.

* The National Economic Council to lead an interagency effort to measure the effect of the Internet and e-commerce on the U.S. and the global economy.

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