Global Framework for Electronic Commerce

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The previous sections have emphasized the need for a new, cohesive framework within which electronic commerce can function. Complicated as that may be, a further staggering realization is that not many of the issues touched upon are local in the digital world. The internationalization of the Internet goes far beyond any expansion witnessed in the last century. For most of the 20th century, corporations have operated as multinational entities knowing no national boundaries. Literally, you can see free trade zones springing up in North America, Europe, and around the Pacific Rim. While these large economic blocks of countries represent the most recent achievement in fostering the free movement of goods, the Internet was created from its inception without borders. For goods and services that can be ordered and delivered over the network, the Internet is truly a global marketplace.

As political borders cease to block to trade, global electronic commerce has implications that reach far beyond mere economic gains from trading. For example, can nations control the movement of digital goods based on content or isolate themselves from the rest of the Internet? Can governments exercise their regulatory powers on the Internet? And how would the effort to set up a uniform legal and commercial environment for the global electronic commerce affect physical markets?

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