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The Electronic Transactions Bill, which will set out the legal framework for electronic transactions and connected matters, was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Oct. 31).
Actual debate on the Electronic Transactions Bill was however suspended, to allow for consultation with the Opposition on the matter.
Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce Minister, Phillip Paulwell, explained that the legislation aimed “to modernise the approach to commercial transactions, allowing for the use of modern technology in such transactions, and is critical for the future development of the private and public sectors in Jamaica.”
“It also clearly states the rules of formation of contracts electronically and it gives legal recognition to electronic communication and signatures. It also ensures that electronic communications are treated in the same way legally as paper communications with regards to admissibility in court,” he added.
According to the Technology Minister, government was encouraged by the growth of e-commerce, e-banking and e-government services and “deems it an imperative to ensure that there is a legal and regulatory framework in place for financial and commercial transactions over the Internet, thereby promoting legal certainty in relationship to electronic transaction.”
The Bill, he said, also addressed security concerns surrounding transactions over the Internet.
“I know that many of us are very concerned about doing business and passing your personal information over the Internet . [so] the Bill seeks to address that, in that there is a reliable method of authenticating a person’s identity and there is no possibility of the sender of communication denying that it was sent by that person,” he explained.
In addition, Minister Paulwell told the House, companion legislation would be promulgated, which will address matters such as abuse of privacy, cyber piracy, misuse of personal data, infringement of copyright, and computer hacking.
A public education campaign is also slated to be undertaken to encourage more Jamaicans to use this mode of doing business.
The Electronic Transactions Bill, he informed, conformed to internationally accepted principles and practices as influenced by the model law on electronic commerce, which was adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade in 1996. The model law, he said, was formulated “as a basis for countries to evaluate and to modernise aspects of their laws and practices for transactions involving the use of computerised or other modern techniques, and for the establishment of relevant legislation where none exist.”
Prior to the drafting of the Bill, Minister Paulwell said the Ministry engaged in consultations with the private and public sectors.
He noted further, that submissions were received from a number of private sector bodies and in the process of consultation, “we have had responses from .the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Jamaica Bar Association, the Shipping Association of Jamaica, the Bankers Association of Jamaica, and . telecommunication companies and internet service providers. As far as possible, we have been able to incorporate the comments from these stakeholders”.