Whitehall gets lesson in e-policy

The e-policy principles have been developed following consultation with government departments, devolved administrations, industry and consumer representatives. And they follow criticism that Whitehall is not doing enough to promote e-government.

The principles, which will be formally reviewed every two years to keep them relevant, are designed to ‘highlight the special features which characterise both e-commerce and the internet and emphasise the need to be aware of these features when developing policies’.The eight principles are:

– Always establish the policy consequences for e-commerce;

– Avoid undue burdens on e-commerce;

– Consider self and co-regulatory options;

– Consult fully on e-commerce implications;

– Regulation should be technology neutral in its effects;

– Check proposals are enforceable in an electronic age;

– Take account of the global market place – the EU and international angle; and

– Consider the implications for e-government.

E-commerce minister Douglas Alexander said: ‘The fast moving world of e-commerce presents many challenges and opportunities for policy makers across government. I welcome this approach to help ensure that legislative and policy proposals deliver specific government objectives while minimising any adverse impact on e-commerce.’

E-envoy Andrew Pinder said: ‘I believe these principles will be a useful resource for policy makers. We need to engage fully with industry and our other stakeholders to develop a policy framework fit for the e-economy.’

Nick Lansman, secretary general of the Internet Service Providers Association UK, welcomed the proposals.

‘ISPA UK has long supported initiatives which promote light-touch, and where possible self or co-regulatory approaches to e-commerce regulation. The e-policy principles is such an initiative, and we are confident that it will promote a greater understanding of the unique nature of the e-commerce industry amongst policy-makers across government.’

CBI director of international competitiveness Andy Scott added: ‘We welcome the government’s recognition that the information age needs light-tough regulation. Achieving it in practice has not been straightforward and we hope that this guide will help officials to better understand the impact of regulation on the e-economy.’


Click here for details of the principles

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