HC Deb 27 January 2000 vol 343 cc282-3W
21. Dr. Kumar

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to provide a network of support for those businesses which trade on the internet. [105770]

Ms Hewitt

We have established a network of 100 Support centres throughout the UK under the Information Society Initiative (ISI) at which businesses can get impartial, jargon-free advice and support. In England, these Centres will be fully integrated into the new Small Business Service.

We are also working with a newly formed Digital Content Forum on an action plan for growth in this rapidly developing sector which includes many of the key content and service providers for e-commerce based businesses.

Beyond this, work is under way to develop a new, industry led mentoring scheme for internet based start ups, building on recommendations in the Performance and Innovation Unit's report "e-commerce@its.best.uk".

22. Mr. Russell Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account he has taken in framing his policy on e-commerce, of representations received from the IT industry. [105771]

Ms Hewitt

The report "e-commerce@its.best.uk", launched by the Prime Minister in September 1999, sets out the Government's e-commerce strategy. In preparing this report, extensive consultation took place with representatives from the IT industry among others.

In general terms, the Government meet regularly to discuss e-commerce policy with the Information Age Partnership, in which business leaders from the IT industry participate.

23. Dr. George Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure that the UK is among the world leaders in the exploitation of IT. [105772]

Ms Hewitt

We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world for Information Technology and e-commerce. The Government's vision and strategy for e-commerce is set out in the report "e-commerce@its.best.uk", which was launched by the Prime Minister in September.

The Electronic Communications Bill, currently in committee stage, will give digital signatures legal parity with their written equivalents and will put wholly electronic contracts on a sound legal footing.

30. Mr. Savidge

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure the security and privacy of internet transactions. [105780]

Ms Hewitt

Government alone cannot ensure the privacy and the security of the internet. We are, however, taking steps to ensure that both business and the public have the tools at their disposal to address their own needs. In particular we have introduced the Electronic Communications Bill, which will both promote the use of electronic signatures and encryption, and enhance the availability of cryptographic support services, such as the issue of authentication certificates. The Department has also been involved in the creation and promulgation of BS7799, the standard for Information Security Management, which is now recognised internationally as an important tool for business in securing their internet transactions. Finally the 1998 Data Protection Act, which will be implemented later this year, ensures that all those who process customer data have to adopt mechanisms to safeguard its privacy.

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