Academic journal article Economics, Management and Financial Markets

The Legal Environment of Romanian E-Commerce: A Critical Analysis and Recommendations for Improvement

Academic journal article Economics, Management and Financial Markets

The Legal Environment of Romanian E-Commerce: A Critical Analysis and Recommendations for Improvement

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. Romania has been experiencing rapid growth in internet accessibility and E-commerce. The nation has enacted three E-commerce statutes: the Electronic Signature Law ("ESL") is third-generation with no exclusions from coverage, and contains an extensive list of penalties for Certification Service Providers ("CSP") who violate the ESL or other laws; the E-Commerce Law ("ECL") is distinguished by the fact that consent of all parties is not required to have a valid E-contract, its provisions pertinent to out-of-court settlement as well as court action, and a range of civil and criminal penalties provided for unlawful E-commerce sellers; and the Cyber-Crime Law establishes a list of computer crimes relating to crime prevention, data confidentiality, computer tampering and online child pornography. Those statutes provide a satisfactory legal foundation for Romanian E-commerce, but they need to be calibrated and supplemented. Recommended changes and additions to Romanian E-commerce law include: enactment of a comprehensive Electronic Transactions Law which will incorporate all laws pertinent to E-commerce, including E-contract rules; recognition of the validity of the electronic form in compliance with several additional requirements of other statutes, including notarization; addition of rules for electronic automated contracts and electronic carriage contracts; more consumer protections for E-buyers; establishment of Information Technology. Courts for resolution of E-commerce disputes; creation of long-arm jurisdiction over foreign E-commerce parties; designation of the Romanian Post Office as an accredited CSP; adoption of a National ID Card containing a digital signature which can be activated by an accredited CSP, including the Post Office; and enactment of a new computer crime, Intentional Injection of a Virus into a Computer System, with onerous penalties for offenders.

JEL Classification: K1.

Keywords: Electronic Signature Law, Certification Service Providers, E-Commerce Law, Cyber-Crime Law.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PAPER

The objectives of this paper are:

(1) to consider the recent growth of internet accessibility and ecommerce in Romania;

(2) to analyze the three Romanian E-commerce statutes; and

(3) to make recommendations for refinement of those statutes.

ROMANIA'S INTERNET ACCESSIBILITY AND GROWTH IN E-COMMERCE

According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 7.8 million Romanians in a population of approximately 21 million accessed the internet in 2009; this is an internet penetration rate of 37 percent, which ranks 37th in the world.1 Even in 2007, 44% of internet users already had high-speed broadband, and that figure has undoubtedly increased during the past four years.2 In 2008, Romania was the home to 340,000 registered domain names.3 In 2010, the nation had 2.5 million internet hosts, a world ranking of 34th.4 ?-government has flourished in Romania; as early as 2001, planning was already in place for electronic government purchases and for online submission of customs documents and fees.5

The rise in the number of broadband connections in the country has made ?-transactions quicker and easier to consummate. Because of the growing availability and ease of use of the internet, Romanian E-commerce has increased markedly since 2006. This occurred despite the fact that only 29% of Romanian internet users engaged in E-commerce in 2007 .6 The number of secure E-commerce transactions increased fivefold in 2006 alone.7 However, one factor that has hampered the growth of E-commerce has been the reluctance of many Romanians to make electronic payments because they are often perceived to be risky and insecure.8 Accordingly, many citizens of the country prefer to pay for their online orders via remittance of cash to the courier when the item is delivered, or to use a bank draft.9 Other concerns of Romanian ?-shoppers include product quality (37% of respondents to a survey) and trying to save money (21%). …

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