PublishedOctober 3, 2000

CCIA President Calls for Moratorium on Government Competition in E-Commerce

Washington, DC- Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) President & CEO Ed Black today testified in support of several members of Congress who have asked for an immediate government-wide moratorium on activities that would duplicate or compete with private-sector electronic commerce.

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government, Black also asked that the Subcommittee uphold existing policy by restating that no authorization or appropriation exists for the Internal Revenue Service to proceed with its plan to provide electronic tax-filing services in competition with private providers. Black said that planning for such services must be halted immediately to prevent the public sector from using tax revenue as “venture capital” to undermine existing private companies that provide electronic financial services.

Noting that US companies lead the world in electronically based commerce, Black said that electronic preparation and filing services already are available at very low or no cost to low- and middle-income taxpayers. Black told the Subcommittee that there is no need for a “big government” program to encourage the goal of widespread electronic tax filing, because private sector companies today are fast making it a reality. Black called it a “fundamental mistake” for the IRS to go beyond its clear core mission and become a tax preparation and filing service, and said that such a move actually would endanger the nation’s ability to achieve its electronic filing objectives.

“It does not serve the taxpayer well for the government to neglect the changes and innovations necessary to make electronic government a reality, and instead to focus on trying either to duplicate the services the private sector is already offering, or to try to manage competition, revise business models, and run the industry,” Black said. Pointing to the growing number of examples of government intrusion into the private marketplace, including the Postal Service’s plan to become an online financial services portal, Black expressed broad concerns about government’s expanding role in the hugely successful digital economy. CCIA has commissioned an independent economic policy study on this issue, to be released later this month, which analyzes the implications of this trend.

Copies of the statement will be available on the CCIA website at www.ccianet.org or via e-mail upon request.

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