Estrada signs e-commerce act into law

Estrada signs e-commerce act into law

MANLA, June 14 Kyodo

Philippine President Joseph Estrada signed into law Wednesday an act governing electronic commerce in the Philippines as the country eyes a share in the burgeoning e-commerce market.

The Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 also provides fines and penalties for “cybercrimes”, the earlier lack of which made it difficult for Philippine authorities to charge the suspected Filipino author of the ILOVEYOU virus that crippled computers worldwide last month.

The new law calls for up to three years imprisonment and a fine from a minimum of 100,000 pesos ($2,357) to a maximum commensurate with the damage caused. It will, however, not be retrospective and cannot be used in the “Love Bug” case.

“We now leave the confines of the industrial age to embrace the immense possibilities of an economy that is based, not on land or capital, which are the privileges of a few, but on talent, ingenuity, and skill, which are common to all,” Estrada said in a speech at the ceremonial signing. “With a firmly established legal and regulatory framework in place to facilitate the conduct of e-business, I can only assure our people of a bright future ahead for e-commerce in the country.”

He cited a report that says business-to-business e-commerce will grow to about $7 trillion worldwide in the next four years.

Given the country’s highly trained and trainable human resources, combined with a developing information infrastructure, “I am confident that the Philippines has an excellent chance of capturing a major share of the market,” he said.

The law recognizes and protects documents and signatures transmitted electronically as if they were paper documents, imposes penalties and fines for computer hacking, mandates government offices issuing permits, licenses and other documents to computerize and mandates government offices or agencies to switch from paper to electronic documents in all government transactions.

The Philippines is the fourth country in Asia, after Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, to have an e-commerce law.

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