NTIA Press Releases
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 7, 2001
Contact: Ranjit de Silva
(202) 482-7002

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AND THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION TO HOST ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES WORKSHOP

WASHINGTON- The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today they will host a workshop on April 3, 2001 to explore the impact on consumers of a requirement to obtain the consent of consumers to receive information electronically. The Workshop was prompted by a provision in legislation passed by Congress last June that required the Secretary of Commerce and the FTC to study the benefits of the consent requirement to consumers and the burdens on electronic commerce.

The workshop was announced in a Federal Register Notice to be published shortly. The text is available at NTIA's website www.ntia.doc.gov. Last June 30th, Congress passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act which was designed to facilitate the use of electronic records and signatures in interstate and foreign commerce and to remove uncertainty about the validity of contracts entered into electronically.

Under the Act, businesses that are required to provide or make available information to consumers in writing may provide them with that information using electronic records only if the consumer consents in a manner that reasonably demonstrates the consumers' ability to access the electronic record.

It also required the Secretary of Commerce and the FTC to study the benefits of the consent requirement on consumers and the burdens on electronic commerce and report to Congress by June 30, 2001.

In addition to the workshop, NTIA and the FTC will seek white papers and comments to determine the benefit of the consent requirement to consumers and business; the burdens imposed on consumers and businesses; whether the benefits outweigh the burdens; whether the absence of the consumer consent requirement would increase consumer fraud and whether the requirement should be revised.

Interested parties, including electronic commerce businesses, consumer groups, law enforcement and regulatory agencies and academics are invited to submit written comments. Written comments and papers are to be submitted on or before March 16, 2001.

The workshop will be held between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, D.C. 20580 .

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