Regulating the Net

The Clinton Administration wants to "establish cyberspace as a duty-free zone" by "advocating for no new taxes on the Internet," a task force headed by senior policy advisor Ira Magaziner said in a recent report.

The task force's draft, "A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce," recommends a limited role for the federal government in developing standards and policies for trade on the Internet.

"The Administration believes that widespread competition and increased consumer participation in marketplace choices, not government regulation, should be the defining features of the new digital age," the report said.

In addition to electronic commerce issues, the task force report explored encryption policy and infrastructure concerns.

Encryption is the encoding method used to secure transactions over the Internet. The Clinton Administration supports a "key-escrow" encryption policy in which the federal government would be able to break the code of encrypted messages during criminal investigations. Privacy advocates on the Internet oppose the "key-escrow" plan because they say it would allow the government to pry into personal messages.

The draft also called for the creation of a "self-regulatory regime" to handle infrastructure concerns like domain name distribution. Domain names are the addresses used on the Internet, like or Trademark issues have been brought up regarding domain names and the contractor that handles domain distribution for the National Science Foundation, the InterNIC Registration Services group at Network Solutions Inc., has had difficulty keeping up with the explosive growth of the Internet.

The Internet Society, an organization of businesses, non-profits, individuals, and several government agencies, took offense at the task force's conclusion that "there is no authoritative forum available at this time for addressing policy issues regarding the use of GII [Global Information Infrastructure] identifiers, including domain names."

The Internet Society sponsors several working committees that address management of domain names, intellectual property issues, and Internet standards development.

"For the Internet to achieve its fullest potential, we believe self-governance is required. The role of the Internet Society is to facilitate that requirement," the society wrote in a letter to Magaziner.

The Reston, Va.-based Internet Society has 100 organizational and 7,000 individual members in 150 countries.

The interagency task force on electronic commerce includes representatives from 14 agencies, including the departments of State, Treasury and Justice, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.