Washington — -The Federal Trade Commission begins a series of hearings Thursday on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.” CCIA welcomes the opportunity to be involved in substantive discussions on this topic. This first hearing will examine competition in the economy and the consumer welfare standard that has been the test for when…
Electronic commerce, the Internet and computing promise new opportunities for businesses and services. Unfortunately, Federal and State governments sometimes view the Internet and electronic commerce as a new platform for government-provided products and services for consumers in direct competition with private sector market participants. These e-commerce ambitions by government entities are separate and distinct from e-government initiatives to digitize and modernize traditional governmental functions.
CCIA views government efforts to launch competitive e-commerce initiatives with great trepidation. While we support government efforts to modernize operations, improve taxpayer services and utilize the tools and technologies of the Information Age, we cannot support the government as a competitor in commercial markets. Such activity is antithetical to a successful free market and unfair to American taxpayers and shareholders of private businesses, who are forced to compete with publicly-funded government entities.
CCIA believes that the government injecting itself into the competitive software industry market with the goal of replacing private financial services will have new and far-reaching impacts, such as destabilizing competition, private investment and innovation. The important goals of tax simplification and tax reform can be achieved without unnecessarily inserting the federal government into a new economic role currently played by the private technology sector. Reduction of taxpayer burden can be achieved by non-monetary partnering with the private sector (through initiatives like the Free File Alliance) without reducing the essential citizen-centric and decentralized character of the U.S. voluntary compliance tax system.