Mandelson plans internet shopping revolution

EVERYBODY IN the country will be allocated a unique electronic signature allowing them to buy and sell goods on the internet, under plans unveiled this week by Peter Mandelson.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will announce the intention to change the law to make on-screen shopping easier. Ministers plan to introduce electronic codes which will be as legally binding as a signature on paper.

Instead of quoting a credit card number, people will be able to use their individual electronic signature for transactions - even buying or selling a house - on the web. They will be able to pay for goods at "virtual checkouts" or put money in the bank.

The new codes would ease introduction of smart cards, which are being considered by the Cabinet Office as part of the drive to make government more efficient. These would allow people to use their electronic signature to claim benefits, pay tax or register a birth without leaving home.

The cards could also contain information on an individual's shopping habits, allowing firms to market more effectively.

The change, expected to form part of an electronic commerce Bill in the Queen's Speech, will be announced in Mr Mandelson's address to the Labour conference tomorrow.

He will say Britain must capitalise on the technologies to be competitive in the 21st century and argue that promoting electronic commerce is crucial. "It puts global marketing and sales in the hands of everyone, especially small firms, at minimal cost," he will say. "We need to make sure all our lives and rules are 'e-commerce' friendly ... to provide the best environment worldwide for business to trade electronically." The DTI's Future Unit, a civil service think-tank analysing change in the way business operates, concluded that a "revolution" is underway in the high street. This could mean that by 2000, 95 per cent of a family's purchases could be made from "virtual hypermarkets" on the internet.

The report says "intelligent shopping" will soon be widespread, saving banks, building societies and shops billions, and making life easier for shoppers.

Middle-men - such as estate agents, travel agents or financial advisers - could become obsolete as companies develop direct relationships with their consumers, the report says. They would be replaced with "one-stop shops", offering a range of services and advice.

Plans to introduce individual smart cards, operated through an electronic signature, are expected in a White Paper on Better Government. Ministers want to introduce kiosks, possibly in post offices, where people could pay tax or claim money from the Government with their card.

But the Future Unit acknowledges concerns that electronic signatures could infringe civil liberties and says the Government must introduce strict regulations to ensure data is protected.

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone