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Internet privacy issues focus of Paris summit

September 16, 1999
Web posted at: 2:33 p.m. EDT (1833 GMT)

by Terho Uimonen

From...
IDG.net

(IDG) -- Efforts aimed at protecting consumer privacy on the Internet were high on the agenda at the Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe) conference.

Among the key suggestions was the planned establishment of a GBDe "trust mark" for Web retailers to increase consumer confidence, said acting GBDe Chairman Thomas Middelhoff at a press conference.
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The main worry with e-commerce is the relationship between consumers and Web businesses, while business-to-business commerce presents fewer problems, said Michio Naruto, vice chairman at Fujitsu and GBDe spokesman for Asia and Oceania. Naruto was the originator of the GBDe trust mark proposal, according to Middelhoff.

Consumer privacy concerns were the main topic as media representatives grilled GBDe CEOs on how they expect to solve the perceived major differences on how people and governments around the globe look at privacy issues on the Internet.

The GBDe's views on protecting personal data are quite close to those expressed in a recent directive from the European Union, said Jean-Marie Messier, chairman and CEO of French conglomerate Vivendi, which according to the company's Web site boasts 260,000 employees worldwide.

That does not mean, however, that there will not be differing opinions on the issue of privacy, Messier said, adding that "we need to do more in this area."

The GBDe also expects to present a proposal within six months for the establishment of an industry-led organization for handling and mediating disputes between consumers and Web businesses, officials said.

Middelhoff also announced that the GBDe has appointed Time Warner Chairman and CEO Gerald Levin and Steve Case, CEO of America Online, to co-chair the GBDe committee for the next 12 months.

Vivendi's Messier, meanwhile, was appointed the chairman of the GBDe's Europe and Africa region.

The GBDe was formed only in January of this year. Featuring 29 CEOs from some of the world's largest corporations, the GBDe steering committee at the Paris conference presented its suggestions on how industry, governments and international organizations can cooperate in the creation of a global e-commerce marketplace. P>Among the 435 participants were representatives from over 200 companies, including about 70 CEOs and board members, officials said.

In addition, some 110 representatives from various governments around the world also participated in the conference, together with officials from about 20 international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Terho Uimonen is Scandinavia bureau chief for the IDG News Service.


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