|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Friday, June 16, 2000||202-224-0894|
In a floor statement on the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, Sen. Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, urged regulators to take advantage of the bill's provisions that allow them to waive restrictions on electronic commerce. The Senate voted today, 87-0, to approve the legislation.
"I expect the regulators to act vigorously to remove unnecessary restrictions and requirements," Gramm said. "Electronic commerce should labor under no greater regulatory restrictions than does the quill pen, if this is to be a system for the twenty-first century."
The full text of Gramm's floor statement follows:
"I rise today in support of the conference report on S. 761, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, also known as the E-SIGN bill. The bill establishes a uniform national standard for treating electronic signatures, contracts and disclosures as legally binding in the same way that physical signatures, paper contracts and paper disclosures are legally binding. The bill will allow American businesses to become more efficient and productive through use of the Internet and other forms of electronic commerce, rather than being forced to use paper for all binding agreements. Further, it will expand for consumers everywhere the availability of products and services as well as permit tremendous time savings. With consumers no longer bound by expensive and time-absorbing requirements to complete transactions through the mail or in person, consumer costs will decline and choices will grow. Working from home computers, people will increasingly be able to pay bills, apply for mortgages, trade securities, and purchase goods and services wherever and whenever they choose. The reach of the consumer will extend around the globe.
"Senator Spencer Abraham deserves the lion's share of the credit for this legislation. He began this process back in 1998, fathering not only the Senate bill, but subsequently generating interest on the House side. He continued providing technical and drafting assistance throughout the process. Without Senator Abraham's persistence, and his clear, constant vision of what we needed to accomplish, there would be no bill.
"This legislation will have a profound impact on the financial services industries. `Electronic records' is the term in the legislation that would encompass the disclosures that banks and other financial services companies must provide to consumers. Unlike the Senate bill, the House-passed bill included references to `electronic records' throughout the provisions of the bill. By including electronic records along with electronic signatures, the House bill extended the scope of the bill to cover disclosures required under various laws and regulations.
"Far more than other industries, financial services companies such as banks, insurance companies and securities firms are impacted by these disclosure laws. Not only these industries, but these disclosure laws themselves fall under the jurisdiction of the Banking Committee. I am pleased that members of the Banking Committee were able to serve on the conference committee to ensure that these provisions were drafted in an appropriate and workable fashion.
"There remain some problems with the bill, but I do not believe them to be overwhelming. There are those who are fearful of the electronic market place, and that fear found its expression in the debates in the conference committee. It found its expression in provisions in this bill that apply standards to electronic commerce that are not applied to paper commerce. That is not unusual. Every major technological advance has met with fear before its full benefits were embraced. It may seem odd, but not over one hundred years ago there was a very spirited congressional debate about whether it was safe to buy an automobile for transporting the President. Voices were loudly raised in Congress that automobile transportation was not safe, that it was too risky to let the President be transported in anything other than a horse-drawn carriage. Governments passed restrictions on automobile use that sound silly to us today.
"I believe that many of the fears that have been raised about electronic commerce will very soon sound silly. In fact, many of them do not make much sense today. That is why I am pleased that this legislation will allow the regulators to remove many of these onerous restrictions if the fears prove unfounded, as I expect that they will. And as I expect the fear to prove unfounded, I expect the regulators to act vigorously to remove unnecessary restrictions and requirements. Electronic commerce should labor under no greater regulatory restrictions than does the quill pen, if this is to be a system for the twenty-first century.
"We will watch very closely the development of electronic commerce. If this legislation proves to put an unnecessary burden on electronic commerce, and if the regulators fail to act, or if legislation is needed, we will then take vigorous action in the Congress to correct the situation and make the purposes of this legislation a reality."