Cabinet this week cleared the long pending draft electronic transaction bill, intended to facilitate the use of modern communications and information storage tools in transactions. Cabinet this week cleared the long pending draft electronic transaction bill, intended to facilitate the use of modern communications and information storage tools in transactions. The legislation will create a functional electronic equivalent for traditional paper-based concepts such as “writing”, “signature” and “original” and give it legal acceptance in court.
The legislation also governs the use of electronic means of data collection and storage by government departments and agencies.
However electronic acceptance of applications or data for procuring citizen services will be at the option of each government department.
The proposed legislation will also enable current electronic transaction depended services like the electronic data interchange (EDI) to move away from physical verification of documentation and the requirement for paper signed authorisation for customs documentation.
The ICT Agency says the electronic transaction laws are required as the lack of it creates uncertainty with regard to the legal recognition of e-Commerce based activity.
At present several laws in Sri Lanka impose barriers to electronic forms of contracting, especially with regard to enforceability.
Further, there is legislative uncertainty with regard to the manner in which Government Departments could accept electronic filings, which is an impediment to the development of e-governance.
Recognition of electronic transaction is a key component in implementing the ambitious e-Sri Lanka initiative aspires to empower the rural poor by taking communications and technology to the villages.
Policy makers hope the series of projects on the cards will enable rural Sri Lanka to access information and citizen services at the click ok a button from where ever they are – avoiding the long journey to the closes urban centre or worse to Colombo.
The legislation will also facilitate the e-Sri Lanka initiative’s strategy to improve the way the government works by automating most of the current processing including data collection, storage and information sharing.
A number of initiatives have already taken off, including projects with the persons registration department, the motor traffic department and the foreign employment department, all of which require e-transaction laws to give legal status for the electronic processing of the related documentation.
The electronic transaction law is among a series of new legislation being introduced by the government to accommodate growing global trade connections and adopt new technology to improve productivity and service delivery.
Related legislation enacted recently or in the pipeline includes the legislation for Intellectual Property Rights and Computer Crimes.
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