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Czech E-Signature Bill Passed

[Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC] Czech President Vaclav Havel signed an e-signature bill on July 10, 2000. Therefore, the Czech Republic became the one of the first countries of the world with such a law and the very first in Europe with an e-signature bill compliant within the EU directive from December 1999.

The e-signature bill gives electronic signatures and documents the same authority in law as those done with ink on paper. It is expected to boost the development of Internet usage and e-business, because it makes a reliable legal platform for these activities. The law will allow consumers and businesses to sign checks and complete applications for loans or services without the need for an ink-and-paper signature. It also allows the conclusion of business agreements electronically. Increased activity is expected in the communication between citizen and government, e. g. in filing of tax returns. Internet traffic is expected to increase as a result of the e-signature bill, local analysts expect.

The legislation, which was approved by the lower and upper house of Czech Parliament during the spring 2000, has been prepared by group of lawyers backed by the IT industry association SPIS (Sdruzeni pro informacni spolecnost, i. e. Association for the Information Society). The bill was sponsored as the joint initiative of all the democratic political parties in Czech Parliament, which is entirely unusual move. It proves that the development of Internet and e-business is considered by younger generation of Czech politicians as the matter of national interest.

After passing the bill, the support of products and solutions dealing with the electronic signatures will increase. The toughest commercial battle ahead will be for the position of the national certification authority, i. e. the company administrating the database of public keys. Large system integrator PVT holds the lead, but many smaller companies who specialized in network security will also compete in this field. Another key player is KPNQwest, and until now has only operated as an ISP in the Czech Republic. Nowadays it prepares consumer oriented products allowing safe communication to all the categories of Internet users.



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