April 2008 - A Message from ERA’s VP of Gov’t Affairs

ERA’s Advocacy - It’s About You!

By Bill Mcclellan

The dramatically successful 2007 ERA Annual Convention in Las Vegas saw a new year dawn for the Electronic Retailing Association’s Government Affairs Committee. The Government Affairs Committee has a simple mandate: to serve as the industry’s advocate with Congress and regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C. Many of you may be familiar with our Government Affairs efforts through our industry’s self-regulation program, the Electronic Retailing Association Self-Regulation Program (ERSP). The program, which began in August 2004, has enjoyed spectacular success in helping rid the industry of bad actors that make false and unsubstantiated advertising claims on TV, the Internet and radio.

Since its inception, the program has tracked over 4,500 DR campaigns, monitored over 250 hours of live shopping and reviewed over 4,000 pieces of spam and 2,625 web pop-ups. However, the true success of the ERSP can be directly traced to the support of the industry. Of the 184 cases ERSP has opened, only 11 marketers have refused to make the necessary modifications to their advertising claims, resulting in referral to the Federal Trade Commission. This signature program has served as an instrumental tool in improving the industry’s reputation with consumer groups, the press and those on Capitol Hill charged with oversight of our industry.

However, these self-regulatory efforts are only the tip of the iceberg in what has proven to be an incredibly busy year on a number of fronts. Such efforts have a direct effect on you and the way you do business. During the fall of 2007, ERA led the charge in opposition to the unsuccessful efforts of state tax commissioners to force e-retailers to collect sales tax on remote sales. Soon after, ERA again helped reduce industry liability arising from efforts in both the House and Senate to strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as a result of highly publicized product recalls in the news last year. While both of these issues are incredibly important, no issue has the potential to affect electronic retailing more than the threat of tiered network access.

ERA continues to lead the charge to keep electronic commerce and information exchange on a level playing field for all providers. An ongoing mission is to ensure that your success is based on the strengths of your business and not your ability to pay for better network access. This issue, known as Network Neutrality, has again entered center stage with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) holding hearings and members of the U.S. House of Representatives introducing new legislation. This year, it has been a great pleasure working with other volunteers on ERA’s Government Affairs Committee on behalf of the industry. However, we cannot do it alone. We need your help!

On May 20, 2008, ERA will host an industry fly-in to Washington, D.C., for its members and others in the industry interested in going to Capitol Hill and visiting with their members of Congress. The event is free of charge and a seasoned lobbyist will lead your team. This event provides our industry the opportunity to sell the great story of e-commerce to the leaders in our nation’s Capitol. I strongly urge you to consider attending to find out more about the issues affecting your business and help us spread a positive image of the industry for all. I look forward to seeing you there.

Bill McClellan is vice president of Government Affairs at ERA. He can be reached at (703) 908-1032, or via e-mail at [email protected]


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