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PKI in Brunei: Finance minister holds the key

The challenges of e-commerce are complex and the Government of Brunei Darussalam is taking a multi-pronged approach to develop the infrastructure and jump-start a Net economy in the country.

The challenges of e-commerce are complex and the Government of Brunei Darussalam is taking a multi-pronged approach to develop the infrastructure and jump-start a Net economy in the country by revealing a masterplan called RaGAM 21.

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has been called upon to take the lead by setting up a National Committee on Electronic Commerce to oversee information infrastructure and standards, legal frameworks and policing, taxation, finance and payment systems, security and trust systems, and human resources development.

It has members seconded from the Ministries of Communications, Development, Education, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Industry and Primary Resources, the Attorney General's Chambers and also Brunei Shell Petroleum, Brunei Bankers Association, and Chambers of Commerce.

Seminars have been organized to promote and provide information on the issues that are impacted by e-commerce such as those in electronic payment systems, commercial code, security and intellectual property. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education putting emphasis on IT education to produce the skilled workforce that is required to man various sectors of the industry.

In order to create a predictable legal environment, the Attorney General's Chambers recommended that a commercial code for electronic transactions be enacted in the Electronic Transactions Order 2000. This commercial code draws from the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce and the Singapore Electronic Transactions Act, which has the US Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

This will deal with legal aspects of how a contract can be formed electronically and the use of digital signatures, the status of secure electronic records, authentication and non-repudiation of public key infrastructures by Certification Authorities and cross certification of foreign CAs.

The legislation also contains an omnibus provision through which Government departments and statutory boards can accept electronic filings without the need to amend their respective Acts, Emergency orders or regulations. The provision will also allow these bodies to issue permits and licences electronically.

The Electronic Transactions Order 2000 has been approved by His Majesty Sultan of Brunei on 20 November, 2000 and published by the Government on 16 December, 2000. The legislation has, however, yet to come into force and the Minister responsible for this is the Minister of Finance.

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