Three bills currently before Parliament *”are aimed at making The Bahamas a centre for excellence in e-commerce,”* says Bahamian Prime Minister the Hon. Perry G. Christie.
As the convergence of the financial world and the world of commerce accelerates, The Bahamas anticipates that the e-commerce legislation will enhance the efficiency of all aspects of doing business in The Bahamas and enable opportunities for The Bahamas to be a principal bridge between the brick and mortar and digital economies. Freeport, Bahamas, in particular, provides unique opportunities to capitalise on e-commerce with its tax free zone, substantial transshipment facility and light industry capabilities.
The three bills are The Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill, The Computer Misuse Bill and the Data Protection (Privacy of Personal Data) Bill.
The Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill addresses those circumstances where the law or statute calls for an agreement to be in writing and signed in original form by allowing the writing, signature, original and copes to be generated electronically.
The Misuse of Computer Bill covers six different offenses including all forms of hacking and is based on standards and guidelines that have been established by the European Council and the Organization for Economic and Co-operative Development (OECD). These standards have been adopted by nearly 30 countries, primarily within the developed world.
The Data Protection Bill implements privacy principles established by the OECD to protect the privacy and transfer of personal data.
*”E-capability is essential in the provision of financial services,”* says The Hon. Allyson Maynard Gibson, Minister of Financial Services & Investments. *”The government is committed to e-government as an essential part of a commercial environment that will strengthen the financial services sector.”*
Rowena Bethel, the Ministry of Finance’s Legal Advisor says the legislation is designed to create certainty and reliability, and build trust and confidence for the on-line commercial world. *”We sought to recognise the unique qualities of the Internet,”* she said. *”Consequently, our legislation seeks to support and enforce a predictable, minimalist, consistent and simple legal environment for e-commerce.”*
*”With a competitive high quality telecommunications infrastructure of redundant self-healing fiber optics, Internet Service Providers and Data Centers, e-business applications are now an integral part of doing business in The Bahamas,”* says Wendy Warren, CEO and Executive Director, Bahamas Financial Services Board. * “The legislation is the latest strong signal that The Bahamas, already a well-established financial center, is fully prepared to provide international services in the digital economy,”*she said.