Commentary: The Net: How To Head Off Big Time Regulation

As E-commerce blossoms into a trillion-dollar business, there's only one thing that seems capable of slowing it down: politics. Worried about the Internet's potential to invade people's privacy, separate them from their money, and cause untold additional havoc, politicians around the globe are considering new laws to prevent the revolutionary communications channel from being misused. That impulse, in turn, is making many business executives worry that their dream of a frictionless, worldwide electronic marketplace will be ruined by a patchwork of inconsistent local regulations. Imagine how much harder life would be at Amazon.com if the company were forced to comply with everything from Kuwaiti decency standards to European privacy laws to Iowa sales taxes.

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