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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