Canada-United Kingdom Joint Statement On Global Electronic Commerce And E-Government
Electronic commerce will be one of the major driving forces of the 21st century, enhancing productivity and innovation; creating jobs and new markets; improving the quality of services in private and public sectors; and offering consumers greater choice. Canada and the United Kingdom share a vision for the development of a global information society, and recognise the need for an international environment, which supports the growth of electronic commerce, and maximizes social potential for citizens. In order to foster this environment, they will actively work in concert with the private sector, other governments, civil society and international organisations.
This joint statement is intended to promote the development of electronic commerce and the widespread adoption of new electronic service delivery approaches by governments by:
- supporting and endorsing a shared vision and policy principles for the global environment which facilitates the growth of electronic commerce;
- committing to an action agenda between Canada and the United Kingdom with governments, businesses, and consumers in key areas of electronic commerce and e-government.
Shared Vision For Global Electronic Commerce
Canada and the United Kingdom, working where appropriately through the European Community, will cooperate bilaterally and collaborate in furthering the work of international organizations to create a positive environment for the growth of electronic commerce and e-government, based on:
- Building trust for users and consumers—ensuring safeguards to provide protection and increase confidence in the digital marketplace by addressing such issues as privacy, security, and consumer protection.
- Establishing transparent, objective ground rules for the digital marketplace—ensuring that existing legal and commercial frameworks in areas such as contract law and intellectual property, apply to electronic transmissions and enable the future growth of e-commerce and its social potential.
- Enhancing the information infrastructure—striving to ensure effective access and a sustained, longterm trend towards low cost and high quality information infrastructures and services for e-commerce and e-government by means of effective competition in public telecommunications transport networks and services.
- Maximizing the social and economic benefits—recognizing the role of governments in addressing the needs of business, including small and medium-sized enterprises, organizations, and consumers in developing and developed countries.
- Promoting global participation—developing a broad collaborative approach that includes governments, the private sector, the wider community, and international organizations which aims at maximizing the social and economic potential of electronic commerce and electronic service delivery across all economies and societies.
The following principles form the basis for co-operation between Canada and the United Kingdom in promoting the growth and use of electronic commerce and e-government and future development of the information society:
- The private sector should lead in stimulating the growth of electronic commerce through investment and innovation in products and services. It also has a key role, in partnership with governments and the wider community, to ensure that domestic and international business practices facilitate trust and consumer confidence.
- In meeting the public interest, it is the primary role of governments to create a favourable environment for global electronic commerce and e-government, for both business and consumers, and to maximize its potential for social, civic and community development in a manner which:
- optimizes private sector innovation and initiative in a competitive environment;
- minimizes legal and regulatory barriers to electronic trade, and avoids the emergence of new ones while recognizing the right of governments to pursue public policy objectives.
- provides confidence in the instruments and networks of electronic commerce and egovernment through appropriate government action and use of policy tools (i.e., legislation, regulation, and self-regulation) which are clear, transparent, and predictable and which protect the public interest and the rights of consumers.
- takes account of the needs and interests of the wider community through consultation with representative groups.
- Governments also have a key role to play in the growth of electronic commerce by acting as a 'model user' of information technology and supporting private sector-led initiatives and call-to-action. Governments can both enhance business and user confidence, and improve administration by pursuing excellence in the online delivery of government services and information using electronic payment systems and public key infrastructure and other authentication technologies.
- International co-operation and harmonization among all countries, based on international standards, will assist in the construction of a seamless global environment for electronic commerce and egovernment and extend its benefits to all.
Agenda For Canada-United Kingdom Cooperation
Recognizing that bilateral co-operation can complement and advance the development of essential multilateral frameworks, Canada and the United Kingdom agree on the following agenda for co-operation and will undertake to implement it both in their respective national policies and internationally:
1. Bilateral Action
Actively promote exchange of information and views and co-operation between the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom, with the participation of the private sector and the wider community in both countries in undertaking action on the issues contained in this statement. Canadian and UK representatives will meet regularly in conjunction with existing international meetings to further this agenda and facilitate the translation of this co-operation into meaningful international frameworks. Key priorities for joint work over the next year include:
The Canadian and UK governments will support measures to promote consumer confidence in electronic markets, including consumer trustmarks and related alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Representatives of Canada and the UK will:
- exchange information on national approaches, consumer concerns and private sector mechanisms;
- encourage and promote private sector-led arrangements for mutual recognition of both:
- national seal programmes for consumer protection developed on the basis of stakeholder collaboration (business, consumer groups, governments, and experts); and
- related alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Canada and the UK consider that frameworks for the protection of privacy and personal information are a vital component of an electronic commerce strategy and beneficial to the evolution of an information society. The Government of Canada and the Government of the UK, working where appropriate through the European Community, will collaborate closely towards the development of their respective frameworks in order to ensure the free flow of personal data between the UK and Canada.
Canada and the United Kingdom agree on the necessity for policies to facilitate the use of technologies for authentication and for the conduct of secure electronic commerce and e-government. To this end, both countries will discuss the various technological options for providing authentication and explore arrangements to achieve a common framework and approach that would promote electronic transactions across borders and that support a variety of authentication technologies. Canada and the United Kingdom will also explore mechanisms to enhance international co-operation to combat illegal activities and to empower users with regards to potentially harmful content.
In light of the importance of governments as model users of information technology, Canada and the UK place a high priority on working to transform their respective governments through the widespread adoption of online service delivery. To this end, the Canadian and UK representatives will:
- Seek to establish information sharing mechanisms in all areas related to egovernment;
- Promote collaborative and common approaches to international bench marking;
- Commit to share best practice and exchange information and experiences on the innovative use of online technologies by governments to improve service, and program, delivery; enhance citizen-to-government communications; and accelerate the growth and development of the e-economy; and
- Explore the opportunities provided by the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments to arrange exchanges of staff to facilitate information sharing and promote innovation in e-government.
Canada and the UK recognize the importance of business partnerships to the growth of global electronic commerce, and will encourage and support the collaboration by Canadian and UK private sectors through broader co-operation initiatives, in particular in the area of research and development, technology, standards, and the interoperability of networks and electronic markets.
E-commerce and e-government are dynamic forces that have, and will continue to have, a profound impact on our social and economic lives. The Canadian and UK governments acknowledge the importance of sharing information on the development of metrics to measure the Internet economy and of studying the ongoing social and economic impacts of e-commerce and e-government. Both governments will also continue to co-operate, bilaterally and within the framework of international organizations such as the OECD, to develop relevant cross-country indicators and adequate Internet economy analysis programmes.
Market Development / E-Business Acceleration
Canada and the United Kingdom will share information on key strategies and/or best practices aimed at ensuring that SMEs are well positioned to reap the benefits of e-business transformation and e-government.
Skills and Training
Canada and the United Kingdom will co-operate on training and skills issues and will regularly exchange information by experts on the challenge of educating, training and developing a qualified workforce for the new economy.
2. Multilateral Action
Continue to collaborate in relevant international fora to support the broad international growth of, and access to, global electronic commerce and e-government and its benefits. In particular, bilateral discussions will be undertaken to advance multilateral efforts in:
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Within the OECD, Canada and the United Kingdom will continue to collaborate on the analysis of the social impacts of information and communications technologies and the digital divide, implementation of consumer protection guidelines for e-commerce and methods for effective measurement of components of the information society, including development of a set of cross-national statistical indicators for e-commerce and e-government.
World Trade Organization
Canada and the United Kingdom agree that the existing body of trade rules developed under the WTO apply to electronic commerce, and believe that further discussion is needed on what measures and means can be taken to encourage its growth and realise the potential economic gains of electronic commerce in all WTO members. The United Kingdom, working through the European Communities, and Canada, will continue to promote the continuation of the WTO Work Programme and press for its timely and effective progression and completion.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
The United Kingdom and Canada will co-operate on matters within the ITU which may impact on the development of ecommerce, in particular on the Third World Telecommunications Policy Forum and on reform of the ITU.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Both governments support WIPO's electronic commerce work programme and will collaborate on WIPO initiatives related to intellectual property and electronic commerce.
Canada and the United Kingdom welcome the release of the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society and agree to fully support the work of the Digital Opportunity Task Force (dot force). The dot force will be instrumental in facilitating discussions with developing countries, international organizations and other stakeholders to promote international co-operation and encouraging participation in the global information society.
United Nations and International Financial Institutions
Canada and the United Kingdom support the ongoing work of the United Nations system to share experience and build the capacity of their members to address Information and Communication Technology (ICT) issues, including through the United Nations Development Programme, UNCTAD, UNIFEM and the International Telecommunication Union. We welcome the emphasis the United Nations Secretary General gave to building digital bridges in his report to the Millennium Assembly and the useful discussions in the Economic and Social Council. We also welcome the work of the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions in this area. We agree to co-operate with these organizations in working effectively to address the digital divide issue.
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