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Uk Ecommerce Bill Unveiled

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Seb Potter

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User since: 22 Apr 1999

Articles written: 19

The UK government has just unveiled the proposed electronic commerce bill, apparently designed to encourage the secure and widespread use of electronic commerce in the UK.

However, on closer inspection, only one part of the bill appears to be related to electronic commerce, which is the provision that electronic signatures will be legally acceptable as a binding signature. The rest of the bill appears to deal with encryption, and key escrow.

Under the terms of the bill, it would be a legal requirement to hand over the encryption key to any encrypted document or file if the police request it. This is an interesting provision, because the penalty for notifying anybody that your communications are being intercepted by the police would be 2 years imprisonment, and you would be assumed guilty unless you could prove otherwise.

Considering that the UK government promised that they had abandoned key escrow some months ago, this looks like yet another turn-aruond in a field that legislators have previously proven their incompetence.

The Guardian has an article discussing the announcement, as does The Register.

Seb is a Jedi Master in the art of creating sites and keeping servers running. This often means hitting them repeatedly with forces that defy rational explanation, though he prefers to descibe it as "administration". When he's not practising his percussive skills on E450s and AS400s, he can be found masquerading as the senior developer for some widely varied clients. It's still not certain whether or not the meanings of CMS, CRM, and B2B have penetrated the alcoholic fog enveloping his brain, but he makes convincing noises to customers about XML, XSLT, Python, J2EE, PHP, Perl, C++, and OpenGL.

Seb has been in the web game pretty much since it began, and still has fond memories of the time when a web could be swept aside with a duster and spam was pork luncheon meat. Despite being the developer of one of the first commerce sites in Europe, he has yet to make any real money.

Being English, Seb doesn't like SOAP, but instead has recently discovered something called ZOPE. Zope is a platform that runs Plone which he thinks is the coolest thing since high-performance, real-time 3D APIs, which he often writes small games in.

Seb lives in the best little city in the world, and used to commute 5 hours a day on British trains. He is subsequently immune to all forms of torture techniques.

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