Legal and Policy Frameworks

For the growth of intelligent enterprises in the new economy, the regulatory and legal frameworks have to be structured in such a way that they are transparent and market-favourable. They must not be seen to stifle enterprise or impede innovation. Also, they must be flexible enough to be fine-tuned in the face of accumulated experiences and best practices in other markets. Indeed, Porter (2001) has stressed that the value proposition of digital marketplaces arises principally from the frameworks and standards put in place as well as the technology platforms supporting these.

The following frameworks are in place:

Electronic Transactions Act

The act provides a legal basis for e-contracts and e-signatures. It is of interest to note that Singapore was among the first few countries in the world to formalize such mechanisms to stimulate e-commerce. Covered under the Act are the following:

  1. Commerce code for e-commerce transactions. The Code spells out the rights and obligations of parties entering an e-commerce transaction. More specifically, the legal basis of such transactions, the reaffirmation of the validity of e-signatures, mechanisms for authentication, and the limits of repudiation are covered.

  2. Use of e-applications and e-licenses. To position the public sector as a key link in the e-commerce ecosystem, a statutory amendment has been instituted to allow acceptance of applications and licenses which are e-filed by businesses and the public. Likewise, it grants legal status to permits and licenses issued electronically by the public sector.

  3. Liability of service providers. With the proliferation of content in the Internet, it is neither feasible nor pragmatic for service providers who merely provide online access to screen content to be held liable for objectionable material. A statute in the Act absolves these service providers from criminal or civil proceedings.

  4. Provision for Public Key Infrastructure. A Public Key Infrastructure is in place to promote a security foundation for the development of e-commerce. A provision has been made for the appointment of a Controller of Certification Authority for the framing of rules and regulations in respect of the licensing of certification authorities as well as for the cross-validation of foreign certification authorities.

Intellectual Property Rights

In the online environment of the Internet, it is essential that there is a balance between the rights of copyright owners and those of the public for information access. Development of intelligent enterprises will be stifled if adequate measures are not available for safeguarding intellectual property rights. The use of the Internet by other businesses which wish to re-engineer certain aspects of their operations can also be affected.

Amendments to the existing Copyright Act have thus been made to ensure that the spirit of the Act resonates in the online environment. The amendments clarify the rights and obligations of copyright owners of intellectual property in the Internet, network providers and users.

Evidence Act

The existing Evidence Act has been amended with a proviso that grants sanctity to electronic evidence tendered in courts.

Computer Misuse Act

Effective from August 1998, the Act provides for penalties scaled according to the gravity of the harm perpetrated using the computer. Also, included in the Act are penalties for interruption of servers and disclosure of access codes without authorization.

Tax Issues

Commerce conducted online offers increased scope for tax avoidance, thus affecting the revenue collections of the tax authorities. To address this, clear rules have been formulated for the payment of two kinds of taxes in Singapore by all online businesses: income tax and Goods & Services Tax.

Dispute Regulation

To resolve disputes in the Internet world in an amicable manner, the Singapore IT Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee was set up in 1997. It also monitors issues related to intelligent enterprises as well as educates service providers and other players in the e-commerce market.

As an indication of the maturing of the e-commerce platform in Singapore, Table 2 shows the timelines for important milestones.

Table 2: E-Commerce Timeline in Singapore.



August 1996

Introduction of e-commerce Hotbed Programme

January 1997

Stock trading on the Internet

Formation of E-commerce Policy Committee

April 1997

First secure VISA card payment over the Internet

Internet website launched for Secure Electronic Commerce Project

July 1997

Netrust – Southeast Asia's first Certification Authority set up

August 1997

Singapore IT Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee set up

October 1997

Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team set up

November 1997

Canada and Singapore sign Information & Communication Technology Agreement

S$50 million fund to boost innovation and multimedia content development in Singapore

June 1998

Canada and Singapore announce first cross certification of public key infrastructures

Electronic Transactions Act introduced in Parliament

Singapore, Canada and Pennsylvania sign education technology MOU using digital signatures

Electronic Transactions Act passed in Parliament

Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 1998 passed in Parliament

July 1998

E-commerce Co-ordination Committee formed

September 1998

Singapore acceded to the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works

Singapore launces e-commerce masterplan

Government Shopfront offers government products and services over the Internet

November 1998

S$9 million Local Enterprise Electronic Commerce Programme launched

February 1999

Launch of the Regulations to the Electronic Transactions Act

Australia and Singapore sign Information and Communication

Technology Agreement

April 1999

e-Citizen Centre set up

September 1999

Berlin and Singapore sign a MOU to cooperate closely in information and communication technology

October 1999

Helpdesk for businesses set up for enquires on e-commerce policies

January 2000

IASPs get guidelines on preventive security scanning

Lifting of import control on cryptographic products

July 2000

First Infocomm Technology Roadmap – charting the future of technology in Singapore

August 2000

Singapore paves the way as a trusted e-commerce hub

October 2000

IDA and PSB announce S$30 million incentive scheme to spur e-business development and growth in Singapore


Intelligent Enterprises of the 21st Century
Intelligent Enterprises of the 21st Century
ISBN: 1591401607
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 195 © 2008-2017.
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