Two More Bills Move Through House Subcommittee

House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley’s (R-Virginia.) 1999 track record for moving e-commerce friendly bills has two new additions. The committee’s Finance and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee passed Bliley’s electronic signature and information access acts on Wednesday.

H.R. 1714, The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, and H.R. 1858, the Consumer and Investor Access to Information Act of 1999, cruised through the subcommittee with no alterations. The group was only charged with examining certain sections of the bills pertaining to their potential impacts on the financial industry.

The E-SIGN bill would allow consumers and businesses to use electronic signatures, the same way they use hand-written signatures, when making on-line business transactions. Bliley argues the bill is needed “to remove legal uncertainties surrounding the status of electronic signatures and records.”

The Access to Information bill would make it a federal crime to hack stock market databases and the market information the databases provide to investors. The bill is designed to help increase security for these databases, on which the nation’s economy turns, while preserving the public’s access to that information, Bliley says.

Both of the Bliley bills now await places on the markup calendar of the Commerce Committee’s Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee. With key members of the Telecom Subcommittee, such as Subcommittee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-Lousiana.) and Rep. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), sponsoring the bills, they are expected to move through quickly. As reported last month, Bliley and his Senate counterpart, Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Arizona.), moved bills to allow digitally encrypted information to be exported. Those bills are touted as door openers for international e-commerce.

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