Legislation aimed at establishing uniform federal law for electronic commerce and electronic signatures and addressing some concerns of the mutual fund industry, has advanced in Congress.

An electronic commerce bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R-Va.) over a year ago, was approved by the House 356 to 66 on Nov. 10, according to Steve Schmidt, a spokesperson for Rep. Bliley. The bill, which was subsequently amended to increase consumer protection, establishes legal parameters for electronic commerce, according to Schmidt.

The measure gives electronic signatures the same legal status as actual, physical signatures on contracts and specifically authorizes the use of electronic signatures in the securities industries, according to the website of the Investment Company Institute of Washington D.C.

The Senate is considering a similar electronic commerce bill sponsored by Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich) and Sen.Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), according to David Carle, a spokesperson for Sen. Leahy.

Carle said that since the bill has bipartisan support, it should pass easily. At deadline, the bill had been placed on hold by Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who was protesting an unrelated dairy issue, according to Carle.

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