In a move that brings China one step closer to implementing a set of laws to regulate online transactions and commerce, a draft law concerning online electronic signatures was approved at an executive meeting of China’s State Council on March 24.
The Law on Electronic Signatures is expected to further regulate the use of online documents and electronic signatures in China. The draft law calls for the establishment of an online authentication system and is designed to safeguard Internet-based transactions and legalize the implementation of e-business and e-government applications.
Following the State Council’s approval of the draft law, the legislation will now be submitted to China’s National People’s Congress. Lin Qiang, an NPC delegate, predicted that the institution of the Law on Electronic Signatures will be treated as a top legislative priority by the NPC.
A digital signature is an electronic signature that can be used to authenticate the identity of the sender of a message or the signer of a document. Digital signatures can also be used to ensure that the original content of an electronic message or document has not been changed. Digital signatures are used to guarantee the security of online transactions and information transfer.
Experts are of the opinion that all online communications and transactions in China should be regulated by the Law on Electronic Signatures, which is intended cover the online activities of government organizations, companies and individuals.
After further amendments, the draft law will be submitted to the Standing Committee of the NPC for further deliberation, the State Council said. Following the institution of the Law on Electronic Signatures, a series of additional laws and regulations, including the Law on Electronic Evidence and the Law on Electronic Contracts, are expected to be adopted to regulate online business and affairs.
Since China’s first Web-based transaction in 1998, the volume of e-commerce transactions has been increasing steadily and the demand for legislative protection is greater than ever.