Compilation of Weekly Presidential Documents - Monday, July 7, 1997 Vol. 33, No. 27, ISSN: 0511-4187 Remarks announcing the electronic commerce initiative

Monday, July 7, 1997


Vol. 33, No. 27, ISSN: 0511-4187


Remarks announcing the electronic commerce initiative. (Pres Bill Clinton




� July 1, 1997



� Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. For those of you who did not

know what he was talking about, we went to a Broadway show last night,

and there were three guys in the show who did the Macarena in the show.

So after it was over, I thought it only fair when the Vice President

spoke they come up and do the Macarena while - it was sort of

background music, you know. [Laughter]



� Lou Gerstner, thank you for being here. That was a remarkable

statement, and the Vice President gave you a remarkable introduction. I

never before thought of you as a gazelle, but I always will now.




� Thank you, Macadara MacColl, for the work you do and for the fine

words you spoke. To the members of the Cabinet and the administration

and people here from industry and consumer groups, I thank all of you.

I especially want to thank for this remarkable report all the agencies

who worked on it and, in particular Ira Magaziner, who did a brilliant

job in bringing everybody together and working this out over a very

long period of time. And we thank you for what you did on that. Thank

you all. I thank the Members of Congress for being here, Congressmen

Gejdenson, Gordon, Markey, and Flake, and for their interest in these




� I had two disparate experiences in the last few days that would

convince a person of limited technological proficiency, like myself,

that the world is changing rather dramatically. You have to remember

now, the Vice President coined the term information superhighway 20

years ago, back when I didn't even have an electric typewriter.

[Laughter] But anyway, I had these two experiences which were very

interesting to me. It's sort of a mark of how our world is changing.



� As you may have seen in the press, the oldest living member of my

family, my great uncle, passed away a few days ago, and so I went back

to this little town in Arkansas where I was born. And when I got there

late at night, I drove out in the country for a few miles to my

cousin's house where the family was gathering. And she has a son who is

in his mid-thirties now who lives in another small town in Arkansas,

who, after we talked for 5 minutes, proceeded to tell me that he played

golf on the Internet several times a month from his small town in

Arkansas with an elderly man in Australia who unfailingly beat him.

[Laughter] An unheard of experience just a few years ago. He knows this

guy. He's explaining to me how he finds this man.



� Then he says, "My brother likes to play backgammon on the Internet,

and it got so I couldn't talk to him. But now I know how I can go get

him out of his game, and he can go find a place to come have a visit

with me, and they can hold the game while we have an emergency talk." I

mean, these whole conversations, the way people - it was just totally

unthinkable a few years ago.



� And then Sunday, the New York Times crossword puzzle - I don't know

if you saw it, but it was for people like me. It was entitled

"Technophobes." [Laughter] And I'm really trying to overcome my

limitations. I'm technologically challenged, and I'm learning how to do

all kinds of things on the computer because Chelsea is going off to

school, and I need to be more literate. But you ought to go back and

pull this, all of you who are now into cyberspace, and see if you can

work your way back to another world because they had high-tech clues

with common answers. Like floppy disk was a clue; the answer was

frisbee. [Laughter] Hard drive was a clue; the answer was Tiger's tee

shot. [Laughter] Digital monitor was the clue; the answer was

manicurist. [Laughter]



� So, anyway, we've come a long way. And I'd like to give you some

sense of history about this, because interestingly enough, this

gathering at the White House, which I think is truly historic, is in a

line of such developments in this house that has shaped our country's

history of communications and networking. One hundred and thirty-nine

years ago, here at the White House, America celebrated our first

technological revolution here in communications. That was the year

Queen Victoria sent the very first transatlantic telegraph transmission

to President Buchanan, right here. And later, the first telephone in

Washington, DC, was located in a room upstairs, the same room in which

Woodrow Wilson managed the conduct of America's involvement in World

War I. So we've seen a lot of interesting technological developments

over time in the White House.



� Now we celebrate the incredible potential of the Internet and the

World Wide Web. When I first became President, which wasn't so long

ago, only physicists were using the World Wide Web. Today, as Lou said,

there are about 50 million people in 150 countries connected to the

information superhighway. There will be 5 times as many by the year

2000, perhaps more, doing everything conceivable. We cannot imagine

exactly what the 21st century will look like, but we know that its

science and technology and its unprecedented fusions of cultures and

economies will be shaped in large measure by the Internet.



� We are very fortunate to have with us today, together for the very

first time at the White House, the four individuals who gave birth to

the Internet: Vincent Cerf and Bob Kahn, who were critical to the

development of the Internet in the 1970's; Tim Berners-Lee, who

invented the World Wide Web, which brought the Internet into our homes,

offices, and schools; and David Duke, who headed the team that invented

the fiber optic cable which made high-speed Internet connections

possible. Their groundbreaking work has done more to shape and create

the world our children will inherit than virtually any invention since

the printing press. And I would like to ask all four of them to stand

and be recognized now. [Applause]



� The report which is being released and work that has been done is our

effort to meet the challenge to make the Internet work for all of our

people. Within a generation, we can make it so that every book ever

written, every symphony ever composed, every movie ever made, every

painting ever painted, is within reach of all of our children within

seconds with the click of a mouse - which was "black eye" in the

crossword puzzle yesterday. [Laughter]



� Now, this potential is nothing short of revolutionary. The Vice

President and I are working to connect every classroom and school

library to the Internet by the year 2000 so that for the first time,

all the children, without regard to their personal circumstances,

economic or geographical, can have access to the same knowledge in the

same time at the same level of quality. It could revolutionize

education in America. And many of you are helping on that, and we are




� We've also included $300 million in our new balanced budget plan to

help build the next generation Internet so that leading universities

and national labs can communicate in speeds 1,000 times faster than

today, to develop new medical treatments, new sources of energy, new

ways of working together.



� But as has already been said, one of the most revolutionary uses of

the Internet is in the world of commerce. Already we can buy books and

clothing, obtain business advice, purchase everything from garden tools

to hot sauce to high-tech communications equipment over the Internet.

But we know it is just the beginning. Trade on the Internet is doubling

or tripling every single year. In just a few years, it will generate

hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services.



� If we establish an environment in which electronic commerce can grow

and flourish, then every computer will be a window open to every

business, large and small, everywhere in the world. Not only will

industry leaders such as IBM be able to tap in to new markets, but the

smallest start-up company will have an unlimited network of sales and

distribution at its fingertips. It will literally be possible to start

a company tomorrow and next week do business in Japan and Germany and

Chile, all without leaving your home, something that used to take years

and years and years to do. In this way, the Internet can be and should

be a truly empowering force for large- and small-business people alike.



� But today, we know electronic commerce carries also a number of

significant risks that could block the extraordinary growth and

progress from taking place. There are almost no international

agreements or understanding about electronic commerce. Many of the most

basic consumer and copyright protections are missing from cyberspace.

In many ways, electronic commerce is like the Wild West of the global

economy. Our task is to make sure that it's safe and stable terrain for

those who wish to trade on it. And we must do so by working with other

nations now, while electronic commerce is still in its infancy.



� To meet this challenge, I'm pleased to announce the release of our

new framework for global electronic commerce, a report that lays out

principles we will advocate as we seek to establish basic rules for

international electronic commerce with minimal regulations and no new

discriminatory taxes. Because the Internet has such explosive potential

for prosperity, it should be a global free-trade zone. It should be a

place where Government makes every effort first, as the Vice President

said, not to stand in the way, to do no harm.



� We want to encourage the private sector to regulate itself as much as

possible. We want to encourage all nations to refrain from imposing

discriminatory taxes, tariffs, unnecessary regulations, cumbersome

bureaucracies on electronic commerce.



� Where Government involvement is necessary, its aim should be to

support a predictable, consistent, legalenvironment for trade and

commerce to flourish on fair and understandable terms. And we should do

our best to revise any existing laws or rules that could inhibit

electronic commerce. We want to put these principles into practice by

January 1st of the year 2000.



� Today I am taking three specific actions toward that goal and asking

the Vice President to oversee our progress in meeting it.



� First, I'm directing all Federal department and agency heads to

review their policies that affect global electronic commerce and to

make sure that they are consistent with the five core principles of

this report.



� Second, I'm directing members of my Cabinet to work to achieve some

of our key objectives within the next year. I'm directing the Treasury

Secretary, Bob Rubin, to negotiate agreements where necessary to

prevent new discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. I'm directing

our Ambassador of Trade, Charlene Barshefsky, to work within the WTO,

the World Trade Organization, to turn the Internet into a free-trade

zone within the next 12 months, building on the progress of our

landmark information technology agreement and our global

telecommunications agreement, which eliminated tariffs and reduced

trade barriers on more than one trillion dollars in products and

services. I'm directing Commerce Secretary Daley to work to establish

basic consumer and copyright protections for the Internet, to help to

create the predictable legal environment for electronic commerce that

we need and to coordinate our outreach to the private sector on a

strategy to achieve this. I'm also directing the relevant agencies to

work with Congress, industry, and law enforcement to make sure

Americans can conduct their affairs in a secure electronic environment

that will maintain their full trust and confidence. Next week,

Secretary Daley and Ira Magaziner will lead a delegation to Europe to

present our vision for electronic commerce to our European trading




� Third, I call on the private sector to help us meet one of the

greatest challenges of electronic commerce, ensuring that we develop

effective methods of protecting the privacy of every American,

especially children who use the Internet. Many of you have already

begun working with Chairman Pitofsky and Commissioner Varney at the

Federal Trade Commission on this issue. I urge you to continue that

work and to find new ways to safeguard our most basic rights and

liberties so that we can trade and learn and communicate in safety and




� Finally, it is especially important, as I said last week, to give

parents and teachers the tools they need to make the Internet safe for

children. A hands-off approach to electronic commerce must not mean

indifference when it comes to raising and protecting children. I ask

the industry leaders here today to join with us in developing a

solution for the Internet as powerful for the computer as the V-chip

will be for television, to protect children in ways that are consistent

with the first amendment.



� Later this month, I will convene a meeting with industry leaders and

groups representing Internet users, teachers, parents, and librarians

to help parents protect their children from objectionable content in

cyberspace. Today we act to ensure that international trade on the

Internet remains free of new discriminatory taxes, free of tariffs,

free from burdensome regulations, and safe from piracy.



� In the 21st century, we can build much of our prosperity on

innovations in cyberspace in ways that most of us cannot even imagine.

This vision contemplates an America in which every American, consumers,

small-business people, corporate CEO's, will be able to extend our

trade to the farthest reaches of the planet. If we do the right things

now, in the right way, we can lead our economy into an area where our

innovation, our flexibility, and our creativity yield tremendous

benefits for all of our people, in which we can keep opportunity alive,

bring our people closer to each other, and bring America closer to the

world. I feel very hopeful about this, and I assure you that we will do

our part to implement the principles we advocate today.



� Thank you very much.



� NOTE: The President spoke at 3:08 p.m. in the East Room at the White

House. In his remarks, he referred to Louis Gerstner, chairman and

chief executive officer, IBM; and Macadara MacColl, managing director,

Parent Soup.



� Statement on Electronic Commerce



� July 1, 1997



� As I unveil our electronic commerce initiative, I am also pleased to

announce that I signed a memorandum(1) that today implements the

Information Technology Agreement concluded at the World Trade

Organization in Geneva in March. This historic trade agreement will cut

to zero tariffs on a vast array of computers, semiconductors, and

telecommunications technology by the year 2000. Trade in these goods

covers more than $500 billion in global trade. These products are the

essential building blocks of the information superhighway. Combined

with the entrepreneurial spirit of people here and throughout the

world, they will drive electronic commerce and communication in the

21st century.



� Every year, we sell $100 billion in information technology that

supports almost 2 million jobs in the United States. Eliminating

tariffs on these goods will amount to a $5 billion cut in tariffs on

American products exported to other nations. For example, in India and

Thailand tariffs on computers are 8 times higher than in the United

States. These tariffs will be eliminated, allowing American products to

compete on a more level playing field.



� America leads the world in information technology. This agreement

will create extraordinary new opportunities for American business and

workers, so the American people can reap the rewards of the global

economy as we enter the new century.



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