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Computer Law of Tunisia: Promoting Secure E-Commerce Transactions with Electronic Signatures

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Tunisia's Electronic Exchanges and Electronic Commerce Law ("ECL") was enacted for the purpose of achieving more security in E-commerce transactions. The ECL provides that: (1) electronic documents may be used to satisfy a statutory requirement for paper documents to be stored for a given period of time; and (2) an electronic signature affixed to an electronic document may be used to satisfy a statutory requirement for an ink signature to be executed on a paper document. The National Agency for Electronic Certification ("NAEC") licenses Certification Authorities ("CA") and regulates their business operations. The purpose of a CA is to verify the authenticity and integrity of an electronic signature that was created by its client—the "subscriber"—and the electronic document it is attached to. The CA issues a certificate to a subscriber containing evidence that her electronic signature was created with a private key that was issued to her by the CA. Tunisia recognizes certificates issued by a foreign CA that has met licensing requirements which are comparable to that of Tunisia. The CA carries potential liability for: the veracity of the information stated in the certificate; ensuring the cryptographic relationship between the private key and the public key (which is used by relying third parties to ascertain the electronic signature's authenticity); and for maintenance of security of the subscriber's private information. The subscriber has potential liability based on her duty to maintain security over the private key and to promptly inform the CA if the private key's security has been compromised. The ECL contains rules governing E-commerce contracts. Furthermore, it has some of the best consumer protections to be found anywhere. For example, Tunisian consumers have a 10-day window of opportunity to back out of the deal after an E-contract has been consummated. This is progressive and commendable; many consumers in Western Europe and North America do not enjoy such a protection. The ECL also contains a list of computer crimes and punishments:fines (up to 10,000 dinars) may be assessed for these infractions, and imprisonment may be imposed against a cyber-seller who uses coercion or trickery against a consumer.


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