Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

CPAs Demonstrate in Congress

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

CPAs Demonstrate in Congress

Article excerpt

One of the developers of CPA WebTrust got a chance to present to Congress the AICPA's new assurance service in the context of consumer protection. Everett Johnson, chairman of the AICPA joint task force (with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants) on electronic commerce assurance services, testified before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, presenting to Congress the same message the Institute has been delivering to business: WebTrust can help make e-commerce safe and secure and thus build consumer confidence. He even gave a live demonstration of WebTrust in action so the congressmen could see how it worked.

Johnson pointed out the key problem that WebTrust is designed to address: Although Internet commerce has enormous potential, the public does not feel secure doing business online. Johnson said that WebTrust--because it is a CPA-provided service--can alleviate some of that concern. He emphasized that CPAs have long had an assurance role in U.S. business as auditors of publicly held companies. The profession has a history of making investors more confident in the stock market and can apply these assurance skills to make the public more confident in online commerce. "A strong parallel between the Internet and the development of the securities market exists today," he said, comparing early investors' fears about financial statements with current concerns about online purchases.

A learning experience

"The subcommittee said it was there to learn" Johnson told the Journal after his testimony. …

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