Fine-Tuning Vietnam’s Electronic Transactions Law To Promote Growth in E-Commerce

Stephen E. Blythe


In the digital age, the E-signature has replaced the handwritten signature. Since 1995, there have been three generations of E-signature law: the first mandated use of the digital signature, the second recognized the legal validity of all types of E-signatures, and the third recognizes all types of E-signatures, but gives preferred status to the digital signature. Vietnam’s Electronic Transactions Law (“ETLâ€), enacted in 2005, is third-generation; it recognizes all types of E-signatures, but favors use of the digital signature. Accreditation requirements are specified for Certification Authorities (“CAâ€), the issuers of certificates and verifiers to third parties that a digital signature is that of a specific subscriber. The CA is responsible for maintaining the security of information that it receives from its subscribers. The CA must inform the subscriber of any limitations on the use of the certificate. If an accredited CA issues a qualified certificate, it must meet more stringent security requirements which can only be achieved with a digital signature. CA’s must maintain a publicly-accessible repository of certificates and the public keys which relying third parties can use to decrypt a subscriber’s message. A CA may incur legal liability for publishing a certificate with inaccurate information or for not issuing a private key to the subscriber corresponding to the public key in the repository. The ETL allows certificates issued by CA’s in foreign countries to be recognized if they provide sufficient security. The author recommends that the following provisions be added to the ETL: (1) consumer protections for E-commerce participants; (2) several new computer crimes; (3) information technology courts; (4) mandatory E-government; (5) explicit long-arm jurisdiction; and (6) recognition of legal validity of electronic wills.

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