Electronic Communications Act of 2000

3-4-2016| by Eric Baker

The Electronic Communications Act of 2000 (ECA) is an important piece of legislation that was signed into law by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Changing the way that many companies operate, the ECA allowed for the growth, expansion, and usage of electronic commerce services in the United Kingdom. In this article, we hope to break down the two major provisions of the ECA and the impact that they have on the business world today.

Regulation of Cryptographic Services

Cryptography is generally understood as the act of writing or solving codes. In ancient times, leaders would create secret codes to pass messages to their generals. The art evolved over time as more and more complex ciphers were created to avoid the possibility of the enemy discovering valuable information. In the 21st century, cryptography is utilized by computers as governments and companies are constantly developing new ways to keep their secrets safe.

Modern cryptography allows for secure communication to take place over the web. Companies are now protected by and secured with encryption keys that keep third-parties from viewing the negotiations between businesses and their customers. In order to regulate these services, the ECA was drafted, thus ensuring businesses that plan to employ electronic commerce services to register with the federal government. These provisions allow for a higher standard of safety and security to take place when companies utilize cryptographic services. The United States has since followed suit and employed similar measures with the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security overseeing the registration of American businesses.

 

Legalization of Electronic Signatures

E-signatures have revolutionized the way that many companies now choose to do business. As legally binding as a handwritten signature, e-signatures can be used to finalize contracts and negotiations over the Internet. Falling under the definition of a cryptographic service, the generation and verification of e-signature service providers are overseen by the federal government, thus providing maximum security and privacy when completing transactions.

When utilized in compliance with federal regulation, e-signatures offer end-to-end privacy as well as being user friendly. Companies have begun the shift to e-signatures as they not only offer convenience, but also serve to expedite the completion of contracts and business deals.

The ECA was ground-breaking legislation. Paired with the United States’ similar Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), e-signatures and cryptographic services made e-commerce the new model for doing business. Companies today continue to abide by this legislation as contracts are now more and more often finalized with an e-signature. Further technological advances have also begun allowing for e-signatures to be completed with mobile devices and smartphones, a provision that allows for additional security and privacy. And with the continued support of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, e-commerce services continue to shape the global marketplace as they are legally recognized in over 130 countries worldwide.

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Additional References:

  1. Guide to the Electronic Communications Act 2000

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.berr.gov.uk/files/file9980.pdf

  1. Cryptography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptography

  1. Electronic Communications Act 2000

http://www.out-law.com/page-675

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Communications_Act_2000

  1. Electronic Signature

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_signature