THE WHITE HOUSE|
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 1, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN INTERNET WEBCAST
Independence National Historical Park
10:35 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Two hundred and thirteen
years ago, about a hundred feet from where I'm sitting now, in the
summer as sweltering as this one, the Founding Fathers drafted the
Constitution of the United States. In the very first article of that
doctrine they wrote that government shall make no law "impairing the
obligation of contracts."
James Madison called this contract clause "a constitutional
bulwark in favor of personal security and private rights. He and his
fellow 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.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of signing into law legislation
that carries the spirit of the Founders' wisdom into the Information
Age. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act,
which passed with overwhelming support from both parties in both Houses,
will open up new frontiers of economic opportunity while protecting the
rights of America's consumers.
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 their
opportunities and broaden their horizons.
Yet that potential is now being held back, ironically, by old
laws written to protect the sanctity of contracts -- laws that require
pen-and-ink signatures on paper documents for contracts to be
Under this landmark new legislation, on-line contracts will
now have the same legal force as equivalent paper ones. Companies will
have the legal certainty they need to invest and expand in electronic
commerce. They will be able not only to purchase products and services
on-line, but to contract to do so. And they could potentially save
billions of dollars by sending and retaining monthly statements and
other records in electronic form. Eventually, vast warehouses of paper
will be replaced by servers the size of VCRs.
Customers will soon enjoy a whole new universe of on-line
services. With the swipe of a smart card and the click of a mouse, they
will be able to finalize mortgages, sign insurance contracts, or open
Just as importantly, the law affords consumers who contract
on-line the same kinds of protections and records, such as financial
disclosures, they currently receive when they sign paper contracts.
Consumers will be able to choose whether to do business and receive
records on paper or on-line. They 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. No more e-mail
attachments with gibberish inside.
Finally, government agencies will have the authority to
enforce the laws, protect the public interest, and carry out their
missions in the electronic world.
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. In many ways, the Electronic
Signatures Act exemplifies that vision. It shows what we in Washington
can accomplish when we put progress above partisanship, cross party
lines, think of the future, and work together for the American people.
Thank you, and happy Independence Day.