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Industry heavyweights set out self-regulation stall

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An industry body is meeting in Paris today to stave off attempts by politicians to regulate ecommerce. The Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe) was set up earlier this year by a mix of IT companies, media companies an retailers, such as AOL, Disney and Time Warner. It plans to issue a set of guidelines for ecommerce, which will negate the need for national and regional governments to legislate in what is still a regulation-free zone. The move is being seen by some as an attempt to thwart the EU's plans to pass legislation concerning taxing online purchases and provide a general framework to promote the growth of ecommerce. Others see this as a bogus argument, pointing to the rapid growth of ecommerce to date, in spite of a lack of regulations. Speaking to Reuters, a number of analysts have doubted the need for such action. "I don't believe the absence of regulation has seriously impeded ecommerce," said IDC's Ken Fraser. Caroline Sceats, research analyst at Fletcher Research, was in agreement. "I don't think consumers are waiting for concrete legislation," she said. The EU has taken a more hands-on approach to all things ecommerce, thus far, and this is an attitude which is likely to continue. The GBDe warns that if the EU established a rigid framework of rules for trading over the Web, rather than promote the growth of ecommerce, it could nip it in the bud altogether. ®

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