Electronic Commerce Directive

Subject: Electronic Commerce Directive
From: Barbara Schleihagen (Eblida@nblc.nl)
Date: ma 23 marras 1998 - 12:20:34 EET

Dear list subscribers,

Last week, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a Directive
to establish the legal framework for electronic commerce. The draft
Directive tries to ensure that also information society services will
benefit from the Single Market principles (free movement of services and
freedom of establishment), and providers could offer their services
throughout the EU, if they comply with the law in their country of origin.

Information Society Services are defined as those provided normally against
renumeration, at a distance, by electronic means and in response to the
request of a customer. Examples covered include on-line newspapers, on-line
databases, on-line financial services, on-line professional services, video
on demand and services providing access to the World Wide Web.

Areas covered by the Directive are: definition of where operators are
established, electronic contracts, liability of intermediaries, commercial
communications, dispute settlement and the role of national authorities.
The Directive would only apply to service providers established within the EU.

The Directive would define the place of establishment as the place where
the operator actually pursues an economic activity through a fixed
establishment, no matter where the websites or servers are situated.

Regarding on-line contracts, Member States would be obliged to remove any
prohibitions or restrictions on the use of electronic media for concluding
contracts. The directive would also clarify in certain cases the moment of
conclusion of contract, whilst respecting contractual freedom, and is
complimentary to the draft Directive on electronic signatures.

The Directive also seeks to clarify the responsibility of on-line service
providers for transmitting and storing information for third parties (as
"intermediaries"). The Directive would establish an exemption from
liability for intermediaries where they play a passive role as a "mere
conduit", and limit liability for other "intermediary" activites such as
the storage of information.

The Directive would allow Member States to impose restrictions on
information society services supplied from another Member States if
necessary to protect the public interest on grounds of protection of
minors, the fight against hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or
nationality, public health or security and consumer protection.

Regarding the question of which law is applicable, the above suggested
principle of "country of origin" law to which service prividers have to
comply with, is in some conflict with the recently (3 November) by the
Consumer Council adopted resolution "The consumer dimension of the
information society". In this resolution, the Council requested that the
legal system applicable to disputes involving consumer transactions be that
of the consumer's country of residence (and not that of the service
provider's country of origin).

Further information is available at the European Commission's web site at:

Best wishes,
Barbara Schleihagen

Barbara Schleihagen, Director
Heidi Hogan, EU Policy Officer
P.O. Box 43300
NL-2504 AH The Hague
Tel: +31-70-309 06 08
Fax: +31-70-309 07 08
email: eblida@nblc.nl

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