Tech Law Journal

Capitol Dome
News, records, and analysis of legislation, litigation, and regulation affecting the computer, internet, communications and information technology sectors

TLJ Links: Home | Calendar | Subscribe | Back Issues | Reference
Other: Thomas | USC | CFR | FR | FCC | USPTO | CO | NTIA | EDGAR

Transript of Speech by Al Gore.
Re: First Annual Report of the U.S. Working Group on Electronic Commerce.

Date: November 30, 1998.
Source: White House Press Office.

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 30, 1998

Room 450
Old Executive Office Building
12:02 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, and it's really a great honor to work with you and your great team at Treasury, particularly in such a time as this. You inspire such confidence here and around the world.

Mr. President, I would like to, on your behalf, acknowledge other members of your administration team who are here: Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, our Special Trade Representative -- (applause) -- well, all of these people deserve applause -- (laughter) -- Administrator Aida Alvarez of the Small Business Administration; and Chairman Bill Kennard of the Federal Communications Commission; Administrator David Barram of the General Services Administration; Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bob Mallett -- and, as mentioned, he and Bill Daley at Commerce have played key roles in all of this -- the Chief of Staff here in the White House, John Podesta, who himself is quite an expert in these technologies; Ira Magaziner, about whom I'll have a few more words to say in just a moment; David Beier, my principal domestic policy advisor; and Sally Katzen at OMB. And David will be chairing this new task force and Sally will be his vice-chair. And don't ever underestimate the importance of that vice-chair position in any organization. It's very significant. (Laughter.)

Member of the House and Senate who are here -- Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. And members of the House: Congressman Chris Cox and Congressman Chip Pickering. And let me say, these members of the House and Senate have been absolutely key to the movement forward for our country, and through our country, for the world's movement into this revolutionary new development. And we are very grateful for the bipartisan working relationship that we have on these issues. And I want to thank all of them and some of their colleagues who could not attend today, but these individuals have been great leaders on this issue.

To the members of the business community who are present, I'm not going to acknowledge everybody because there is such a wide array of leaders here. John Chambers, I'm going to introduce in a moment, from Cisco Systems. But there are a lot of other CEOs who are present. Meg Whitman will speak also, CEO of EBAY.

But I had the good fortune of meeting earlier over in the Roosevelt Room with a large group of CEOs in this industry, and I'm grateful for the chance to do that on a continuing basis. There are members of local and state governments here, and I can't acknowledge all, but I want to acknowledge Senator Scott Howell of Utah and Senator Kenneth McClintock, also here. And there are so many others, Esther Dyson -- I could single out a whole group of people here.

In the earlier meeting we were talking about some of the early days and some of the business leaders were researchers and technicians back in those days. I was recalling a very early prophecy of this development and I'd like to begin with words from the writer Nathanial Hawthorne -- some of you have heard this passage.

In 1851, inspired by the invention of the telegraph just 16 years earlier, he wrote these words: "By means of electricity the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time. The round globe is a vast brain, instinct with intelligence." Well, in all the years since, I don't think there's been any better description of what the Information Superhighway is becoming, what the global information infrastructure is now providing for hundreds of millions of people around the world. With 140 million users now around the world and 52,000 more Americans logging on for the first time every single day, the Internet is remaking the way we live, the way we learn, the way we work. More messages are now sent by e-mail than by regular mail. And what began as a specialized network for computer scientists has become a global nervous system for the entire world.

And even as we begin to feel the power of the Internet in almost every aspect of our lives, one of its most lasting impacts is just now emerging. You can see it on the covers of two of the three most prominent weekly news magazines in America that came out today, this week -- e-commerce; 27 million purchases are now made on the web every day.

I remember when President Clinton and I came into the White House in January of 1993, there were 50 sites on the Worldwide Web. The phrase was unrecognizable to most people. But now global electronic commerce is expected to grow to more than $300 billion annually in just a few years.

Nick Negropontie, known to many of us here, a long-time friend and head of the MIT Media Lab, has his own unique way of explaining this emerging global marketplace and its significance to the new economy. He often tells friends that if they remade the movie, "The Graduate," with Dustin Hoffman, somebody would walk up to his character and whisper in his ear, instead of "plastics," "transactions." (Laughter.)

In this emerging digital marketplace nearly anyone with a good idea and a little software can set up shop and then become the corner store for an entire planet. Who would have imagined that someone who simply wanted to find other people who were also interested in collection Pez candy dispensers -- you remember them -- would become EBAY, one of the fastest-growing companies today.

We were talking about that earlier and I was reminded of the prophecy of Marshall McLuhan several decades ago when he said that the content for the new media will be the old media. I don't think he had Pez dispensers in mind. But certainly we've seen amazing things happen.

And what E-based founders realized, and what Meg Whitman has captured so well, is the powerful idea that people need a central location if they're going to buy and sell unique items. The Internet makes any connected computer that central location, and any desktop can be a doorway to a global mall with a sign that says, "Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."

And new developments are going to take this far beyond personal computers. The burgeoning world of new connected devices held in the hand, put on the belt, put in the purse, wherever, will be the new gateway to this global mall. And just as it helps companies like EBAY, it also opens the world to people like Helen Mutono, a Ungandan woman who uses the Internet to sell Ugandan baskets, with the money going to help children who have been orphaned by AIDS. Or the village near Chincehros, Peru, which has quintupled its income by forming an on-line partnership with an international export company which arranged for its vegetables to be shipped and sold in New York City.

In fact, by the year 2010, we can triple the number of people who can support their families because they can reach world markets through the Internet. And these developments in turn will drive the emergence of brand new phenomena just as exciting as e-commerce that we can't even imagine today. And while these incredible stories represent a quantum shift in commerce and the human condition, e-commerce is even broader than small entrepreneurs reaching a larger world. It is also about companies using the vast resources and networks to connect with each other through business-to-business electronic transactions.

For example, if you want to place a bid at EBAY, the information you convey with the click of a mouse most likely travels through Cisco routers. And how much does Cisco depend on the Internet? Well, they booked $100 million in sales on the Internet in 1996, and one year later it was more like $3.2 billion. This year it's about $100 million per week. With nearly seven out of ten customer orders coming in over the Internet, this is helping to make them one of the fastest growing companies in the history of the computer industry.

We were talking earlier about how, if you look at their market cap, this brand new -- relatively new company now has a market cap larger than that of General Motors and Ford combined. Just another straw in the wind indicating how powerful this new revolution is.

And this proliferation of Internet-based commerce is good for consumers. It is good for companies large and small. And it is awfully good for our economy. And we want it to continue. And that is why President Clinton and I have worked so hard to create a framework for global electronic commerce that would keep the Internet tax free, keep competition vigorous, protect consumers, children, and electronic privacy, and leave supervision not to the government, but to the people who know the Internet best.

It is also why we should hasten the completion of the infrastructure upon which electronic commerce and the Internet depend. The global information infrastructure, or GII, a network of networks that sends messages and images at the speed of light on every continent -- this would help us build a true global electronic village to expand access to all forms of communications, to improve the delivery of education and health care and all services, and to create new jobs and even whole new industries as yet unimagined.

The simple fact is that in today's global economy we are all connected. Global interdependence is not a policy, it is a reality. And that is why President Clinton's leadership in this area is so important. You know, Bob Rubin talked about those days in the transition. President Clinton was insistent that we do everything possible to accelerate these developments from day one.

And I want to especially thank Ira Magaziner for his years of dedicated work on this subject and for helping us so skillfully to move into the Information Age. Ira is a personal friend. He has brought his unique energy and creativity to the complete command of this subject matter and has done a really spectacular job. And before I introduce John Chambers I would like to ask all of you to join me in giving a round of applause to Ira Magaziner. Stand up, Ira. (Applause.) That wasn't in the notes that he gave me for suggested comments here. (Laughter.)

At this point I am very proud to present President Clinton with this new report which demonstrates our progress in electronic commerce over the past year in these key areas. Mr. President.

(The report is presented.) * * * * *


Subscriptions | FAQ | Notices & Disclaimers | Privacy Policy
Copyright 1998-2008 David Carney, dba Tech Law Journal. All rights reserved.
Phone: 202-364-8882. P.O. Box 4851, Washington DC, 20008.