Originally published on November 29, 1999 and brought to you today as a time capsule.
In his weekly radio address, U.S. President Bill Clinton praised theexpansion of electronic commerce and declared that the First Family will be among theestimated 4 million American families that are expected to buy gifts onlinefor the first time this year.
Speaking from the Presidential retreat at Camp David, Clinton said,”The Internet and other information technologies are revolutionizing oureconomy, powering one-third of our economic growth.” The United States is”making the most of new technologies” to keep its economy growing andsustain the longest peacetime expansion in history, he said.
“Few applications of information technology have more potential thanelectronic commerce,” Clinton added, citing the $9 billion (US$) figurethat has become the common prediction for this year’s online sales volume.
Clinton noted that online shopping should be a goal for many families, notjust for the convenience and low prices to be found on the Internet, but also tokeep bolstering small companies and entrepreneurs who have found ways toexpand their businesses through the Internet.
Words Of Warning
While encouraging Americans to take advantage of online shopping’s benefits,however, the President also issued a few words of caution. “As with shoppingin stores, when consumers shop on the Internet, they must take basicprecautions to ensure that what they see is what they get,” he said.
Clinton offered what he believes are the three most important steps thatconsumers can taketo protect themselves online. First, he said, people should pay closerattention to details, such as shipping and delivery dates, extra fees,return policies and customer service information. Second, Clinton said,”always buy with a credit card” to make use of federal protection againstunauthorized charges. Third, he said, “Guard your privacy at all times.”
In addition to the President’s guidance, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce have posted informationon Internet shopping on their Web sites. The FTC provides an online shoppingchecklist on its Consumer.gov site.
The agency’s advice includes checking out e-commerce retailers throughthe Better Business Bureau if the sites are unfamiliar and looking for thesecure server symbol on a merchant’s Web site before transmitting credit cardinformation for a purchase.
Shopping And Giving
Clinton also used his address to appeal to online shoppers’ charitable sidethis holiday season. He suggested that shoppers “think not only about usingthe Internet to buy gifts for friends and family, but also to give more lastinggifts to our community and our future.”
The President noted that the Internetprovides many places for consumers to find information about communityservice organizations and opportunities to donate money, time or goods. Hehighlighted one such site, Helping.org.
Among other Internet sites that combineshopping and giving are 4charity.com, GreaterGood.com, Shop2give.com and Schoolpop.com.