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LINKS IN THIS SECTION

- Executive Summary
- Supranational Regulation: the EU, the OECD and other bodies
- International Organisations and Anti-Offshore Initiatives
- The E-commerce Laws in High-Tax Countries and Offshore Jurisdictions

RELATED SECTIONS

- Taxation of Offshore E-commerce
- Offshore E-commerce Facilities
- Offshore Professional and Financial Services
- Offshore E-commerce Applications

Not all countries agree about the extent to which e-commerce (or offshore e-commerce) needs to be regulated. Broadly, the US legislates less, and the EU legislates more, with most other countries somewhere in between. The list given below of the legislative headings under which specific e-commerce laws or rules have been/are being developed will therefore look much more like the EU's approach than that of the US. For a review of the legislative situation in particular countries, see National Regulation of E-commerce.

In most respects, E-commerce transactions as such are not that different from contractual bargains in the physical world, and the existing body of national and international law and regulation continues to apply. In the US and the EU in particular, there is also the question of federal (or Union) law versus state (or national) law. Whereas in the US, the states have tended to move more quickly than the federal government (the formation of the SSUTA, or Streamlined Sales and Use Taxes Association being an example of this), in the EU it is often the other way around.

The interplay between federal and state law in the US, representing a balance arrived at over a long period of time, was substantially upset by the arrival of e-commerce, so that federal legislation was to a large degree resisted by the states. In the EU, Union law is more clearly dominant, and there has been less chance for individual countries to maintain their own laws, once political agreement has been reached on a given directive (law).

Below is a list of headings under which one or more countries or regions have developed legislation applying explicitly to the Internet.

Ensuring the privacy of communications on the Internet;

Ensuring the opposite, ie Governments making sure they can access or intercept Internet traffic and data when they need to;

Ensuring the security of Internet communications and transactions via encryption, certification and other measures;

Ensuring free or cheap access to the Internet, as in the EU (bridging the digital divide);

Ensuring the opposite, ie restricting access to the Internet, as in China

Encouraging the rollout of broadband internet access, as in the EU;

Controlling the use on the Internet of personal data collected or held by users;

Controlling the pricing or provision of Internet services, for protectionist or anti-trust reasons;

Establishing the level of liability of Internet intermediaries for content they carry or forward;

Defining the place of establishment for companies providing services over the Internet, often for the purposes of taxation;

Establishing rules for the validity of electronic contracts and electronic signatures;

Establishing rules for transparency of advertising and for advertising standards;

Establishing standards and rules governing distance selling on the Internet;

Establishing protection for intellectual property rights; defining rules for copyright and subsidiary rights on the Internet; and

Establishing procedures for dispute resolution.

REGULATION OF OFFSHORE E-COMMERCE

- Executive Summary - A quick overview of major developments in national and international regulation of E-commerce with special reference to offshore e-commerce.
- Supranational Regulation: the EU, the OECD and other bodies - International initiatives to regulate e-commerce and offshore e-commerce; anti-offshore initiatives.
- International Organisations and Anti-Offshore Initiatives - International initiatives from the G7, the OECD and the EU to restrict offshore regimes and their tax-saving possibilities.
- The E-commerce Laws in High-Tax Countries and Offshore Jurisdictions - The laws passed in 'high-tax' countries and links to descriptions of the legislative situation in each offshore jurisdiction.


 

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