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June 15, 1999
E-commerce should not wait for e-laws, says AhluwaliaIndian industry should get on with e-commerce even before an appropriate legal framework is put in place, Montek Singh Ahuwalia, member, Planning Commission, said today.
The industry should not wait to hop on to Internet based businesses until all problems relating to contracts, payments, security and encryption are resolved. It is a complicated affair. The first draft of cyber laws need not be the final. Hence the industry should get on with e-commerce and not wait for all laws to be in place, Ahluwalia urged.
Ahluwalia said that more important than the legal framework is the creation of awareness about this newest mode of doing business and at the same time establishing adequate telecommunications infrastructure.
He pointed out that the absence of cyber laws is not the only hindrance to e-commerce.
Awareness about this latest mode of conducting business and strengthening telecommunication infrastructure is equally important.
Indian industry can afford to wait for cyber laws because it is only a matter of few months now. Almost all political parties have no objection to the legislation of cyber laws and because of its non-controversial nature, the Information Technology Bill will be passed soon after elections, Ahluwalia hoped.
The government, he said, is reviewing its position on telephony over the Internet and is expected to allow this new technology soon. Internet telephony will help in rationalising tariffs and growth of information technology industry, he said.
N Vittal, chief vigilance commissioner, begged to differ on the ordinance issue. He said that the government should immediately come out with an ordinance to frame an appropriate legal framework for enabling e-commerce to develop in the country.
At the same time, the government should quickly implement, in full, the Internet service provider policy and the new telecom policy, 1999, to improve connectivity, a major impediment in developing e-commerce, he added.
Moreover, the National Task Force on Information Technology reports on hardware should also be notified to take care of manufacture of computers and the availability of adequate computer density in the country.
Vittal hoped that the new telecom policy would create a modern and efficient telecommunication infrastructure by taking into account the convergence of computing, media, telecom and consumer electronics.
Earlier, welcoming the delegates, CII President Rahul Bajaj called for an ordinance on cyber laws. Apart from the commercial and legal framework required, Bajaj urged the government to look into telecom infrastructure and training and computer education.
He lamented that the pace of installing cyber laws is pathetically slow in spite of the fact that "it is very important to move ahead with e-commerce if we are to be internationally competitive".
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