ANNAPOLIS – Three of the state’s top elected leaders Friday detailed plans to make Maryland the nation’s pinnacle of electronic commerce, and from motor vehicle registration lines to business startups, Marylanders could be in for a big change.
“Computers, technology, and information systems have been a powerful force behind our current record-breaking prosperity, and they will continue to drive the economy of the future,” said Gov. Parris N. Glendening, flanked by Speaker of the House Casper R. Taylor Jr., and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Their 13 initiatives, called eMaryland, include:
– establishing a governor’s advisory board of leaders from high- tech firms;
– expanding government on-line services;
– protecting citizens from computer crime;
– guaranteeing privacy for Internet transactions;
– expanding child pornography laws to include the Internet.
Glendening credited high-tech businesses for part of the record $925 million state surplus, and said the eMaryland initiative would encourage similar economic development by nurturing new businesses.
“I want to assure the Maryland business community that e-commerce is not only welcome here but that we want to provide the vehicle that will support and enhance business activities in Maryland,” Miller said.
Miller’s package of bills included the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which would provide legal protection for paperless electronic contracts, and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, which sets rules for electronic business transactions. Miller also will submit a bill to prohibit “slamming” or sending unsolicited commercial e-mail.
Taylor’s contribution would create a Technology and Business Division of the Maryland court system. Taylor said he hopes the separate court facilities will draw technology companies to Maryland the way Delaware’s incorporation laws draw corporations.
Legislative leadership also will seek $7.5 million to create the Maryland Science, Engineering and Technology Development Co., which is designed to foster the growth of high-tech startup businesses.
Maryland must be Internet friendly to keep its economy growing, said Peter Franchot, D-Montgomery.
“The basic thrust is that over the next 20 years 1.5 million people and 700,000 jobs, most of them high-tech, will come to Maryland,” said Franchot, a member of the Maryland Information Technology Board and contributor to the governor’s Internet policy recommendations.
Glendening introduced six measures that he said he feels will bolster e-commerce in the state, bring more government services to the people, guarantee the privacy of Internet transactions and protect citizens from computer crime.
By 2004, he wants 80 percent of state agencies to have services available on-line, including motor vehicle license and registration renewal. Now, 15 percent of the state’s services are available over the Internet. And when using the state’s Internet services, Glendening said citizen privacy will be protected.
Other legislation will make it a crime to intentionally cause harm to computers or to steal information about their users.
The initiative also would give police the power to seize computers and software used during “the illegal acts of possessing and distributing child pornography.”
Glendening said Digital Maryland would not jeopardize state jobs and he said he’s opposed to taxing Internet transactions.