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Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 19:09 GMT


UK to appoint Net czar

Mandelson: Digital envoy will spearhead e-commerce drive

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The UK is to appoint an Internet czar to spearhead a government campaign to encourage electronic commerce.

The Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Mandelson made the announcement during a Commons debate on the Queen's Speech.

He said the prime minister had decided to appoint a "high-ranking digital envoy" who would help to prepare and lead Britain into the digital future.

'Growth and jobs'

"The incredible growth of Internet trade shows how the economic landscape is changing - rapidly," said Mr Mandelson.

"The government's industrial strategy for raising Britain's economic competitiveness has at its heart our determination to take advantage of these changes and harness the power of electronic commerce to create economic growth and jobs," he said.

"The prime minister's vision is of building an economy based on knowledge, creativity and skill. The Digital Envoy will spearhead the government's drive to make that vision a reality."

The individual would speak for the UK in the international arena, he said, and drive forward a cross-government strategy for electronic commerce. An advertisement for the post would appear in next week's press.

US Net guru to go

Internet policy currently straddles numerous government departments.

It falls mainly within Mr Mandelson's remit but also comes under the Home Office and the Education Department, which is responsible for the National Grid for Learning aimed at connecting all of the country's schools to the Net.

The creation of the post comes as President Clinton's Internet guru, Ira Magaziner, prepares to leave the White House. He announced this month he would be stepping down by the end of the year.

He said he was satisfied he had completed his main task of moving the issue of electronic commerce onto the world's agenda.

He was responsible for the Framework for Global Electronic Commerce document produced by the White House and has been seeking consensus on the creation of a new non-profit organisation to manage Internet addresses.

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