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Government outlines support for e-commerce

E-commerce takes more than just a computer today.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Frank Boxler)

The government has reiterated a series of measures to help foster the development of e-commerce in Switzerland.

Presenting the package of reforms on Tuesday, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said the use of e-commerce was growing in Switzerland, but was being held back by certain legislative hurdles.

The head of Seco, David Syz, said "e-commerce has continued its growth in the country, particularly inter-company transactions, as it has abroad. And we aren't sleeping."

The government wants to help small and medium sized companies get to grips with the technology. Seco plans to create an Internet portal for these companies by 2001. This would make dealings with the federal administration easier.

Another key issue is the use of electronic signatures. These are not recognised under Swiss federal law, but are essential in e-commerce.

The justice ministry is currently considering making written and digital signatures equivalent, but a number of complicated issues still need to be resolved.

Beyond the legal questions, David Syz said e-commerce risks being held back because the skills needed to exploit it are lacking. "If we were to neglect education, we would lose our competitive edge. Any deficit would be extremely difficult to make up later."

The Federal Office for Occupational Training and Technology is currently looking at ways in which the necessary training can be provided.

The federal authorities are also looking at a number of other issues linked to the Internet, such as data protection, intellectual property, illegal use of the web, network security and the taxation of e-commerce.

swissinfo with agencies


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