Electronic Commerce Attracting State Firms

Article excerpt

Electronic commerce is attracting the interest of Oklahoma companies because of faster turn around times and potentially large savings, but expansion of this new format is being inhibited by legislative barriers, according to discussion before the Electronic Signature Task Force 3.

Removing those barriers so Oklahoma businesses can participate in this growing trend will be one of a two-part legislative focus by the 23-member task force. Part II of the legislative proposal will be creation of a pilot program for the use of electronic signature technology by state agencies.

The task force this week divided into two subcommittees to begin drafting specific legislative language. Rep. Abe Deutschendorf, D-Lawton, task force member, said the panel also needs to study creating a system of verifying electronic signatures. For example, Washington is looking to its secretary of state as the licensing entity for encryption keys. Matching a public and private key code provides a level of security that the signature on the document represents that individual and the document has not been altered since it was sealed. Getting funding and then waiting for the results of the pilot program can delay full development of electronic commerce in Oklahoma until after the year 2000, he said. "If we want to improve, we've got to quite piddling around," Deutschendorf said. He noted that the proposal removing legislative barriers would assist companies that already knew and trusted each other to conduct business electronically. But, what about the new firm that is just starting up, he said, who will verify their electronic documents, or companies wanting to do business outside of Oklahoma. "I'm sick of us getting on the back of the bus," he said of waiting to see what other states are doing. "We don't have to re- invent the wheel, but we need to get out in front of the bus. We need to change the image of the state if we are going to attract high-technology jobs." Rep. Fred Perry, R-Tulsa, task force chair, is expected to serve as House author when the task force's recommendations are introduced in the Legislature. The time line, he said, is to remove barriers and run a pilot program to work out problems, then to roll out the technology statewide with legislation in the 1999 session. Karen Raper, of Little Sys. Inc. in Cleveland, Okla., chaired the subcommittee working on enabling electronic commerce. This is a growing area, she said, but expansion is being slowed by a fear factor since these types of transactions are not recognized in the state. …


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