Digital economy

Forum Background: the Ottawa Conference


Paris, 12-13 October 1999

The OECD and the Government of Canada jointly organised a Ministerial Conference on Electronic Commerce in Ottawa from 7 to 9 October 1998. For the first time at an OECD Ministerial event, leaders from national governments (29 Member countries and 11 Non-member economies), the heads of major international organisations, industry leaders, and representatives of consumer, labour and social interests came together to clarify respective roles, discuss priorities, and develop plans to promote the development of global electronic commerce.

In order to explore the key issues surrounding global electronic commerce, the agenda for the Ottawa Conference focused around four key, complex and interdependent themes:

Building trust for users and consumers
Establishing ground rules for the digital marketplace
Enhancing the information infrastructure for electronic commerce
Maximising the benefits

The Conference Conclusions represent a first for an OECD Ministerial as conference participants - Ministers, business representatives, labour and social interest groups - came to agreement on the formal outcome of the Ottawa Ministerial.

Ministerial Declarations establishing baseline principles and goals to guide the OECD's further work were adopted in three critical areas: the Protection of Privacy on Global Networks; Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce; and Authentication for Electronic Commerce. Ministers also welcomed the report: Electronic Commerce: Taxation Framework Conditions , and endorsed the proposals on how to take forward the work contained in it.

Business Leaders unanimously adopted the Business Action Plan entitled "Global Action Plan for Electronic Commerce prepared by Business with Recommendations by Government" at the Meeting of Business Leaders.

In addition, 12 international and regional bodies including the WTO , WIPO , WCO , UNCITRAL , ITU , BIS , EFTA , UPU and UNCTAD contributed to a first ever compilation of international work related to electronic commerce in the Report on International and Regional Bodies: Activities and Initiatives in Electronic Commerce .

During the Conference, the social interests' community, represented by labour, consumer, privacy and human rights groups developed a "public interest/NGO" letter to Ministers, similar to a statement of priorities developed by the business community.


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