Public Policy and the Internet: Privacy, Taxes and Contract edited by Nicholas Imparato

Wednesday, June 7, 2000

It is becoming clearer every day that the future of e-commerce will have as much to do with how policy issues are resolved as with how any technological challenge is overcome. This book, Public Policy and the Internet: Privacy, Taxes, and Contract, published by Hoover Institution Press and edited by Hoover Research Fellow Nicholas Imparato, illuminates for the novice and expert alike three of the most vexing and newsworthy policy areas.

Andrew Grove (Chairman, Intel), Charles Schwab and David Pottruck (co-CEOs, Charles Schwab Corporation), Pete Wilson (former governor of California), Jerry Yang (co-founder and director, Yahoo) and other prominent leaders met at the Hoover Institution to discuss three separate reports on privacy, taxation, and contract. Each paper constitutes the core of one of the chapters of this volume. Furthermore, the authors used the discussion with executives and other academics to sharpen their understanding of the issues and to clarify their own recommendations and conclusions.

Mary Cronin, formerly a columnist for Fortune magazine and currently professor of management at Boston College, writes about privacy and electronic commerce, and has surveyed opinion and position papers regarding how to deal with on-line privacy, the meaning of privacy in electronic commerce, and the arguments between advocates of self-regulation and legislative models. She describes how the insistence on protecting privacy of individual information could either promote on-line business growth or constrain competition and stifle entrepreneurial opportunities.

Charles McLure, Hoover Institution senior fellow, describes the impediments to equal tax treatment of electronic commerce, and current norms and practices in state sales and national taxation. McLure outlines his proposals, leading with a single, uniform nationwide base for sales and use taxes, to the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. He presents a rich background for understanding, should electronic commerce not be taxed, how to define electronic commerce, what technique should be used to effect the exemption, and how the benefits can be limited to the intended beneficiaries.

Margaret Jane Radin, the William Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law at Stanford University, and codirector of Stanford Law School's Program in Law, Science and Technology, discusses the crisis for contracts precipitated by the advent of electronic commerce. She identifies the challenges associated with five interrelated problems: authentication, binding commitment, standardization, excluded terms, and jurisdiction and choice of law.

Editor Nicholas Imparato is the author, co-author, and editor of numerous publications, including Jumping the Curve (Jossey Bass, 1994) and Capital for Our Time (Hoover Institution Press, 1998). He is also a speaker, a contributing editor for Intelligent Enterprise magazine, and co-founder and director of PrimeWave Solutions.