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Creating Trust In E-Business International Guidelines Updated

New York, November 28, 2001 The International Chamber of Commerce has updated its guidelines for ensuring trustworthy digital transactions over the Internet to take account of the most recent technological and legal developments.

Four years after the first GUIDEC standing for General Usage in International Digitally Ensured Commerce the text of the new guidelines has been posted on ICC's website. They are published against the background of dramatic increases in the information-carrying power and flexibility of electronic messages.

Assessing the business potential of the online medium, William Kennair, the London notary who led the team that compiled the guidelines, said: "Digital signatures and the operation of public key infrastructures ("PKI") promise drastically-reduced transaction costs in virtually every sector of business.

"Companies and consumers alike will welcome the day when the click of a button can complete high-value transactions that previously required hours of deliberation and hundreds of documents," Mr. Kennair added.

Experts from leading Internet software providers, the legal profession and commercial banks drew up the guidelines. Based in Paris, ICC is the foremost business self-regulatory body, whose rules and standards govern the conduct of trade and are accepted throughout the world. The original version of GUIDEC was widely used as a yardstick for electronic commerce rule making and provided the basis for the United Nations model law on electronic signatures.

The key theme underlying GUIDEC II is how to establish trust between parties to a deal and establish the security of information they exchange -- that is, the information's integrity, availability and confidentiality. GUIDEC II stresses the need for "a reliable framework for identifying and certifying parties to a transaction and authenticating the transaction itself"

GUIDEC II sets out principles relating to information system security. They include the use of public key cryptographic techniques, which provide commercial partners with the assurance that their messages are secure and that other parties to a transaction are authentic. Also covered is the use of new technologies such as biometrics -- the science of establishing someone's identity from their unique physiological or behavioral characteristics.

The new version lists of GUIDEC lists recommended principles of fair electronic contracting and outlines pitfalls to be avoided. "Although electronic contracting offers new possibilities for efficient transactions and economies, as well as greater flexibility and evolutionary capabilities, it also has new vulnerabilities to abuse," GUIDEC II warns.

It adds: "A computer's ability to perceive the significance of the information depends entirely on what its programming anticipates and what the computer can recognize in its input."

Separate chapters are devoted to electronic contracting and best practices for authentication and certification. A glossary provides full explanations of the many technical terms associated with electronic commerce.

The United States Council for International Business -- the American affiliate of ICC and several other international business groups -- works to promote an open system of world trade, finance and investment. Its membership includes some 300 U.S. companies, professional services firms and associations.


David Fares, Director of Electronic Commerce, USCIB
(212) 703-5061 or