President Clinton announced measures that will help protect consumers who shop over the Internet, as well as new steps that will help speed up Internet connections.
Mr. Clinton also directed the Commerce Department and the U.S. trade representative to work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to push for increased private investment in high-speed networks so that consumers and businesses are not hindered by Internet slowdowns.
"We have the honor of designing the architecture for a global economic marketplace with stable laws, strong protections for consumers, serious incentives for competition, a marketplace to include all people and all nations," Mr. Clinton said at a White House ceremony on electronic commerce.
"In spite of the ups and downs of partisan debate in Washington, this is one area where we've managed to pull together a wide bipartisan coalition of members of Congress to do a whole series of good things for America through the Internet over the long run," he said.
With members of Congress and business executives in the audience, Mr. Clinton announced several new steps, including efforts by the Commerce Department and Federal Trade Commission to educate consumers and ensure that U.S. laws against Internet fraud can be enforced in the global economy.
"People should get what they pay for online," Mr. Clinton said. "It should be easy to get redress if they don't."
Preceding the president at the podium, Vice President Al Gore said there are 27 million purchases made every day on the Internet, and that total electronic commerce is projected to grow to $300 billion annually in a few years.
"Any desktop can be a doorway to a global mall" that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Gore said.
The administration also wants to do more to encourage small businesses to use the Internet, and Mr. Clinton directed the State Department to push for the spread of electronic commerce in developing countries.
To better understand the trends in electronic commerce, the White House National Economic Council will lead an interagency study of the impact of the Internet on the U.S. and global economy.
"Today we are drawing up the blueprints for a new economic age. Not for starting big institutions, but freeing small entrepreneurs. We have the honor of designing an architecture for a global economic marketplace," Mr. Clinton said.