Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, September 10, 1998 Published at 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK

Business: The Economy

Mandelson plans e-commerce boost

There are plans for the UK to lead the world in Internet commerce

In his first major speech as the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Peter Mandelson has promised the government is dedicated to making the UK the world leader in electronic commerce.

He said there would be new legislation to promote e-commerce "as soon as parliamentary time allows".

Speaking at a conference on digital technology Mr Mandelson said: "It was 38 years before radio users numbered 50 million. It has taken only four years to get the same number on the Internet. So the potential prize is enormous, if we get the regulatory framework right."

Encryption problems

[ image: California dreaming: Mr Mandelson is to visit 'silicon valley']
California dreaming: Mr Mandelson is to visit 'silicon valley'
A priority area for the government is clearing up the legal problems related to encryption.

Encryption is a mathematical process that uses formulas to scramble information and make it unreadable to anyone who might intercept it.

But governments believe it is essential that they have access to electronic information to prevent cybercrime and terrorism.

Business leaders have said this demand stunts electronic commerce.

Mr Mandelson said that the new regulations would also deal with other important issues like intellectual property rights and the validity of digital signatures.

Britain lags behind

In keeping with the aim of boosting e-commerce, Mr Mandelson said the government had pledged that 90% of its routine purchases would be made electronically by 2001.

But he also warned that too many businesses were still not taking advantage of the Internet.

"Only 49% of UK employees work for firms with Internet access, compared with 73% in Japan.

"And only 13% of UK businesses with a web site use it for online trading, while 29% do so in US. We must do better," he said.

Digital leaders

Mr Mandelson also pledged that the new legislation would help make the UK become the "digital laboratory" of Europe.

"We must be the test bed for digital products and services in Europe, so that UK consumers have access to these first and British business can lead the world," he said.

More details next month

To get tips on how to boost Britain's success Mr Mandelson is planning to travel to the Silicon Valley, California, next month on a fact-finding mission.

Also next month, Barabara Roche, a junior trade and industry minister, will unveil more concrete details about the DTI's policy on e-commerce at a conference in Canada.

But any new legislation in the UK will have to wait at least until the next parliamentary session, which begins in November.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

The Economy Contents

Relevant Stories

08 Sep 98 | Sci/Tech
The future is Internet shopping, says BT

24 Aug 98 | Sci/Tech
New encryption security for e-commerce

07 Aug 98 | Sci/Tech
The 30 billion year encryption problem

20 Feb 98 | Encryption
UK Government dithers on encryption regulation

20 Feb 98 | Encryption
The great encryption debate

Internet Links

Department of Trade and Industry

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Inquiry into energy provider loyalty

Brown considers IMF job

Chinese imports boost US trade gap

No longer Liffe as we know it

The growing threat of internet fraud

House passes US budget

Online share dealing triples

Rate fears as sales soar

Brown's bulging war-chest

Oil reaches nine-year high

UK unemployment falls again

Trade talks deadlocked

US inflation still subdued

Insolvent firms to get breathing space

Bank considered bigger rate rise

UK pay rising 'too fast'

Utilities face tough regulation

CBI's new chief named

US stocks hit highs after rate rise

US Fed raises rates

UK inflation creeps up

Row over the national shopping basket

Military airspace to be cut

TUC warns against following US

World growth accelerates

Union merger put in doubt

Japan's tentative economic recovery

EU fraud costs millions

CBI choice 'could wreck industrial relations'

WTO hails China deal

US business eyes Chinese market

Red tape task force

Websites and widgets

Guru predicts web surge

Malaysia's economy: The Sinatra Principle

Shell secures Iranian oil deal

Irish boom draws the Welsh

China deal to boost economy

US dream scenario continues

Japan's billion dollar spending spree