PCS Urges Action on E-commerce Law

MANILA (04/10/2000) - The Philippine Computer Society (PCS) wants both houses of Congress to go ahead and approve an e-commerce bill that will give the green light to electronic transactions before trying to resolve complex legal issues.

In a position paper to be submitted to Congress, the PCS contends that legal problems such as determination of jurisdiction, taxation, treatment of digital intellectual property, regulation of certification authorities, criminalization of online offenses, settlement of domain name disputes and protection of consumers are too complex to be subject of legislation at the moment.

Attempts to completely resolve these issues in the proposed law, the paper states, "will stifle the legislative process and deny e-commerce players the secure legal environment sorely needed for this sector to grow."

The PCS argues that the most important consideration for the speedy approval of the e-commerce bill is the legalization of electronic transactions. The paper also supports the bill's approach to "disturb the existing legal structure in the least intrusive manner" but enhance existing legislation governing the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information.

As this issue went to press, the PCS was circulating the position paper for signature among members and is scheduled to submit it to Congress soon. The paper will also be discussed during the 5th IT Professionals' Congress from May 29 to 30.

The theme for this year's congress is "E-commerce: the Future is Now!" which underscores the changes e-commerce will bring to brick-and-mortar companies and emphasizes the role of IT professionals in the digital age.

Last month, the PCS began conducting weekly breakfast meetings to discuss e-commerce issues and concerns which will be addressed during the Congress. On its first meeting, Moscom president William Torres pointed out that businesses should focus on business-to-business (B2B) first before business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce.

"There is no critical mass yet for the B2C model. For now, the wealth is in e-business," Torres said.

Government representative Ramon Ike Seneres, director-general of the National Computer Center, on the other hand, said the government wants to encourage the business-to-consumer model.

"We see B2B as a means for B2C. If we simply stick with B2B for now, that would be self-serving on our part," he said.

Seneres also said that e-commerce has the potential to increase the country's gross national product by allowing businesses to market globally as well as provide more job opportunities for IT professionals.

For his part, PCS president Nelson Celis said he expects skills and salary levels of IT professionals in the region to standardize in about two years, following the release of a manpower survey conducted by the Southeast Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) and its member organizations.

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