Capitol Roundup

E-Commerce Surge Seen<@VM>Equal Access<@VM>Y2K Ready ? Not<@VM>Web Politics

By Anne Gallagher

A report published this month by the Center for the New West predicts tremendous growth in e-commerce.

The Special Report on the Digital Divide projects 40 million U.S. households will shop online by 2003, growing from 9 million in 1998. Online shopping will account for $108 billion in sales in 2003, growing from $7.8 billion in 1998, and will account for 6 percent of all U.S. retail sales by 2003, growing from 1 percent in 1998, the report said.

Meanwhile, the report said business-to-business commerce totaled $43 billion in 1998 and will surge to $1.3 trillion by 2003, an annual growth rate of 99 percent.

Solomon Trujillo

A group of high-tech chief executive officers urged Congress this month to take the necessary legislative action to revise outdated regulations standing in the way of providing high-speed Internet access to rural areas.

"Millions of Americans are being denied access to advanced telecommunications services, including high-speed Internet access, because of outdated regulations," Solomon Trujillo, chairman and CEO of US West, said at the Senate's CEO Summit on rural telecommunications Sept. 9. "We run the risk of creating a nation of information 'haves' and 'have-nots,' with millions of Americans left on the wrong side of the Digital Divide."

One of the regulations Trujillo and others claim is driving investment away from sparsely populated areas is the restriction against carrying messages across artificial long-distance boundaries, local access transport areas, that were created in 1984.Weaknesses in the Small Business Administration's Year 2000 testing have increased the risk that its mission-critical systems are not ready, the General Accounting Office reported in "Year 2000 Computing Challenge: SBA Needs to Strengthen Systems Testing to Ensure Readiness."

The GAO said SBA's integration tests are incomplete because key business processes were not tested specifically, and tests were not tracked to verify that all key business processes actually were tested. The SBA in fiscal year 1997 provided $10.9 billion in new loan guarantees and $2.4 billion in new venture capital and approved more than 49,000 disaster loans totaling $1.1 billion.
The House rejected 260-160 an amendment to a campaign finance bill that would have exempted Internet activities from Federal Election Commission regulation. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, offered the amendment with the argument that private citizens have the First Amendment right to communicate on the Internet about political candidates. Some members argued such an allowance would create a tool for candidates to raise campaign funds with no oversight or regulation.

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