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  1. Technology
November 29, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

The UK government will appoint a digital envoy to promote the UK as a center for electronic commerce business and investment, said Peter Mandelson, the trade and industry secretary, in parliament last week. The appointment will be made in advance of a white paper – that Mandelson said he would be publishing soon – setting out the government’s strategy for making the United Kingdom a knowledge-driven economy… and the best environment in the world for electronic trading by 2002. The envoy will work closely with government and industry as a public figurehead to sell British electronic commerce globally. The role, which will be advertised this week, is similar to the role played by Ira Magaziner, President Clinton’s special representative on electronic commerce. The announcement of the appointment is a further build up in the UK government’s drive to stimulate development of a high-tech national economy. The Labor government is currently pushing an e-commerce bill through the legislative program which is due to be debated in the Spring of 1999 and could become law by September. The bill is already causing controversy, with the opposition trade and industry secretary, John Redwood, dismissing it as hindering rather than helping electronic commerce businesses and saying that conservative MPs would oppose it. The bill will introduce a voluntary licensing regime for independent bodies offering cryptography services, generally known as Trusted Third Parties (TTPs) and will allow law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants to access encryption keys. A DTI survey showed that 69% of business cited concerns over security in Internet purchases as the major hindrance to the acceptance of e-commerce. But some argue that this will not prevent criminals from using the internet to send encrypted messages and will only infringe on civil liberties.

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