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Elektronische Signaturen

The EU's 15 telecommunications ministers agreed unanimously at the end of
April on two long-awaited measures to make it safer and easier to do
business over the Internet.

One of the measures is designed to give legal status to ``electronic
signatures,'' - codes used to ensure that online transactions are
authentic and confidential.

The other is a broader, more controversial electronic-commerce regulatory
package, which a European Parliament committee is expected to endorse,
clearing the way for full assembly approval in May.

Electronic signatures, produced through technologies such as cryptography,
allow individuals to determine and verify the origin of online data. EU
telecommunications ministers, who were at one point deadlocked over this
measure, have now resolved their differences. The draft EU directive will
make electronic signatures the legal equivalent to hand-written
signatures, as long as they have been properly certified by third parties.

The electronic commerce package also aims to clarify the legal situation
for consumers and companies who do business over the Internet, setting out
rules in areas such as advertising, electronic contracts, liability and
professional standards.

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Full text of news report on the decision: