China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislative body, on Aug. 28 passed a law that legalizes the use of electronic signatures, paving the way to overcome an important obstacle to doing e-commerce in the world’s most populous country, according to the official Xinhua News Service.

The Law on Electronic Signatures gives electronic signatures the same legal weight as a handwritten signature or a seal, Xinhua reported. This will give documents signed over the Internet the same legal authority as paper documents, making e-commerce transactions legally binding, it said.

Under the law, electronic signatures must identify the signer and confirm the content of the signed document, Xinhua reported. The Chinese government will approve and administer third-party electronic signature providers to verify the validity of the signatures, it said.

The report did not specify when the government would appoint an administrator for electronic signatures.

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