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E-sign act a victory for democracy, Clinton reckons

And the death of e-mail gobbledegook to boot

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US President Bill Clinton delivered a patriotic speech via the gimmick of a Web-cast to commemorate both the New Economy and Independence Day, during which he enthused with satisfaction over the blessings of e-commerce upon a grateful nation, as embodied in a piece of recently-signed legislation empowering the masses to sign contracts electronically, and so catapult themselves instantaneously into debt with only the click of a mouse.

"Yesterday I had the privilege of signing into law legislation that carries the spirit of the Founders' wisdom into the Information Age," the President said.

"The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, which passed with overwhelming support from both parties in both Houses [of Congress], will open up new frontiers of economic opportunity while protecting the rights of America's consumers."

America's Founding Fathers, Clinton observed, had wisely drafted the US Constitution to protect the sacrament of commerce. "In the very first article....they wrote that government shall make no law 'impairing the obligation of contracts.'"

James Madison, he recalled, had described that clause as "'a constitutional bulwark' in favour of personal security and private rights." Madison and the other Framers "understood that the right of individuals to enter into commercial contracts was fundamental, not just for economic growth, but for the preservation of Liberty itself."

"For eight years now, I have set forth a new vision of government and politics, one that marries our most enduring values to the demands of the new Information Age," the President boasted.

The White House has high hopes that the electronic signatures act will re-invigorate Democracy and safeguard the Rights of Man for generations to come by bringing consumerist behaviour on the Internet to a state of full maturity.

"This new law will give fresh momentum to what is already the longest economic expansion in our history -- an expansion driven largely by the phenomenal growth in information technologies, particularly the Internet, with its almost unlimited potential to expand [Americans'] opportunities and broaden their horizons," Clinton gushed.

Consumers "will have the power to decide if they want to receive notice and disclosures electronically. It will not be their responsibility, but the company's, to ensure that the data sent to a consumer can be read on the consumer's computer." And that, in turn, will mean the end of "e-mail attachments with gibberish inside," he predicted.

A bold prophesy to be sure; but if, by some improbable twist of fate it should turn out to be true, it will be nothing short of a miracle. ®

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