ELECTRONIC COMMERCE: ISSUES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Purpose This is the discussion paper prepared 17/01/2000 for the 2nd Public Consultation with Treasury on "Building Consumer Confidence in E-Commerce: A Best Practice Model for Business"
Meeting DetailsDATE: Wed 19/01/2000 TIME: 16:30 - 17:00 VENUE: ACCC INVITEES: John RILEY Treasury L 5 77 Castlereagh St Ken BROMFIELD OIC SYDNEY 2000 Stevan GILLMORE OIC Stephen GOULD OIC Issues for discussion The issues for discussion are: A Why it is in the Public Interest to ensure that Australian Internet Traders use the UN/EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Trade) standard for E-commerce on the Internet B Why it is in the Public Interest to manage e-mail effectively to assist Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) and Medium and Small Organisations (SMOs) use the Internet as an information distribution tool for unsolicited e-mail C Why it is in the Public Interest for Associations/Peak Bodies to act as Electronic Notaries for e-mail and e-commerce communications Prepared Mon 17/01/2000 is response to e-mail below received from John RILEY E-mail from John RILEY Treasury 12/01/2000 TO: Stephen GOULD FM: John RILEY 1 Thanks for your message 2 I would like to aim to have the meeting completed within half an hour as we only have the premises available until 5 pm. 3 To address your earlier message - the Best Practice Model is a purely self- regulatory initiative, so will not be enforced through the courts 4 We are aware that the internet is an international medium and that regulation within Australia will only impact upon Australian business 5 However, we do not believe that this is a reason for avoiding action within Australia. 6 Local consumers shopping locally on the net will be afforded some protection through the Model and this is one of the aims of the initiative. 7 I do not see the Best Practice Model as impacting upon the operation of Australia's legal system and request that the discussion be limited to the content of the Best Practice Model, as well as the role of peak industry bodies as you have requested. 15:06:01 Wed 12/01/2000 Canberra A The Use of EDIFACT by Australian Internet Traders a John - I explain why the use of EDIFACT by Australian Traders is so important for Australian Consumers. b When thinking of Electronic Commerce one has to think globally not locally. In otherwords your paragraph 4 has to be placed in context: "4 We are aware that the internet is an international medium and that regulation within Australia will only impact upon Australian business." c Consideration has to be given to the fact that Australian traders will be using the Internet to sell their products and services internationally to overseas Consumers. In addition Australian Consumers will be purchasing products from overseas. d Examples could be that Coles Myer will put their product catalogue on the Web and expect orders from International Consumers. e This catalogue will include products that cannot be shipped through the post and will have to be exported by air or sea. f The international standard for all export documentation is UN/EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Trade). See attached: i - Trade Documents ii - PORTMIS Trade Documentation cycle iii - Letters from EDIFACT Board g EDIFACT was confirmed as an ISO Standard in 1987 and was the first UN endorsed Standard h All Customs worldwide use EDIFACT for Electronic Customs documentation. These can be confirmed by Tom HAYES in Canberra when he was head of the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) in Brussels in 1993 (Aiv - CCC Secretariat 01/01/1993 ccc1.jpg) h Hence it becomes very important that the Australian Best Practice Model gives MORE than guidelines to Australian Traders to use the UN/EDIFACT International Standards for Electronic Commerce when developing their Web sites. Otherwise it will prove very expensive for Consumers if a wide variety of translation software has to be developed and implemented. B Managing e-mail more effectively a The value of the Internet for Electronic Commerce is not that fact that an organisation can have a Web site but the fact that other e-mail sites can be informed about that Web site b Unless Consumers have a reason to look at a Web site there will be little motivation or incentive to hunt and search for Web sites particularly as Web search engines are so crude (ref the Australian 23/11/1999 Searching for a smarter engine Jennifer FORESHAW). c Using "Push" techniques rather than "Pull" techniques is how most organisations keep e-mail users up-to-date with the changes that are taking place eg District Court cases for the day, news services. d Few consumers have the time to search the Web - they may prefer to set up a series of parameters which will keep them informed of issues that may be of interest eg: 1 advise me when a flight to Europe is below $ 1,000 2 advise me when software templates using the EDIFACT standard are available 3 advise me when the 443 bus timetable changes But again few may have the time and experience to keep adjusting the e-mail parameters for different information providers e For Small and Medium size business to be able to offer a better services than large conglomerates they will have to operate on being able to provide a better service at a better price hence this means that more and more SMEs will act as information brokers rather than agents f the Best Guidance that the Department of Treasury can provide to stimulate the Electronic Economy is to outline a series of guidelines for different types of e-mail to encourage the adoption of e-mail by SMEs and SMOs as well as protect the Consumer via Electronic Notaries. g the Consumer will have choice in an orderly fashion that does not congest the system with Junk e-mail h In line with the article "E-mail - the Final Frontier" Australian 23/11/1999 the OIC has been evaluating methodologies that provide a "terser protocol for e- mail". Associations/Peak Bodies as Electronic Notaries a The function of an Electronic Notary was proposed in the TEDIS legal Workshop in Brussels in June 1989 b There needs to Electronic Notaries that keep track of what information is sent to which consumers particularly with regard to E-commerce eg updates on delivery notification, special terms and conditions, changes in flights and schedules etc c The Peak Body/Associations can act either as an independent 3rd parties or record the communication flow status on behalf of their members d They can act as watch dogs to ensure that certain Internet organisation do not exceed the guidelines for distribution information electronically e They can provide Consumers and Government with important statistics for maintaining and developing the electronic infrastructure so that the same situation with Junk mail in the USA does not occur in Australia (ref P 4 Treasury "Building Consumer Confidence in E-Commerce: A Best Practice Model for Business") f The Electronic Notaries will become very important in business - to - business E-commerce particularly in the Trade Cycles as illustrated by PORTMIS1.JPG Conclusion The Best Practice Model should include a section on Australian Internet Traders: Australian Internet Traders 1 When engaging in E-commerce the field structures for Web software should use the UN/EDIFACT Standard 2 E-mails to market, advise, inform and update should use the agreed codes to designate the type of e-mail 3 An Australian Internet Trader is encouraged to be a member of an Association or Industry Peak Body that is prepared to provide an Electronic Notary service Copyright & re-publication This document is the Intellectual Property of the OIC Electronic Commerce Work Group 1 (ECWG1). It can be reprinted at any time and included in other documents provided acknowledgement and reference is given to "OICEGWG1 17/01/2000"