E Commerce Laws



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The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) are the two main electronic commerce laws in the US.  The UETA Act, discussed in detail below, is primarily for the purpose of bridging the gap between the individual states and providing some uniformity when it comes to electronic commerce law.  A major point of the UETA Act is the provision that makes it no longer necessary to retain paper copies of all books and records files.

The ESIGN Act is a federal act that applies to all interstate commerce (commerce that occurs across state lines) and that establishes guidelines for such commerce.  One of the cornerstones of the ESIGN Act is that any electronic contract or signature, “may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form”.  (ESIGN Act, section 101(a)). 

E Commerce Legal Problems

Common legal problems with electronic commerce law include the issues of security and digital signatures.  In order to validate that the parties to a contact are who they say they are, sophisticated digital signatures and biometrics are necessary to protect the interests of all parties involved.  There are also common legal issues around the contract formation process and applying traditional contract laws to an electronic forum.  Finally, the liability of internet service providers frequently arises in electronic commerce law because things like internet outages can have profound effects of the contracting process, particularly at the offer and acceptance phase. 

The Uniform Electronic Signature Act

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), is an electronic commerce law that nearly all states have enacted (except Washington, Illinois and New York, which each have similar state laws).  The UETA standardizes conflicting electronic commerce law from state to state so that it is easier for businesses and individuals to utilize electronic commerce options.  One example of electron commerce law is related to electronic contracts and signatures and the push to recognize the validity of electronic signatures.  Electronic commerce law levels the playing field between traditional contract formation and electronic contract formation, which has the positive effect of bringing more people into the virtual marketplace. 

Help from an E Commerce Lawyer

Electronic commerce law is an ever-evolving body of law that is full of intricacies that may be missed by the average consumer or vendor.  If electronic commerce is a large part of your business, it is a very good idea to seek the advice of an attorney in your area that specializes in electronic commerce law.  By understanding the provisions and available protections of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), individuals and businesses will be better suited to use electronic commerce to their advantage.  An attorney is a critical component to making certain that a beneficial contract relationship exists for all parties involved.

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