Public Consultation document on the proposed regulations

Launching the Public Consultation document on the proposed regulations under the eCommerce Act

The Minister for Competitiveness and Communications, the Hon. Censu Galea has launched the public consultation document on proposed regulations under the eCommerce Act.

The Electronic Commerce Act (eCommerce Act) was conceived back in 2000 as one of a set of three laws intended to pave the way for the realisation of the information society. Since the enactment of the Act, Malta has seen a major uptake of electronic commerce (taken also to include the provision of on-line information by commercial enterprises).

The proposed regulations establish a light but effective supervisory regime that will serve to ensure that regulatory obligations are complied with whilst reinforcing the consumer rights already enshrined in the Electronic Commerce Act. The regulations also seek to complete the transposition of the eCommerce Directive and the eSignatures Directive.

In drafting these Regulations the Ministry has sought to avoid the introduction of unnecessary regulatory burdens and has only included measures strictly necessary to encourage undertakings to provide on-line services whilst ensuring that the rights of consumers are adequately protected.

They require information society service providers to provide basic information to their clients in order to ensure that customers know who the service provider they are dealing with is. They also introduce obligations intended to introduce an appropriate level of transparency with respect to commercial communications provided on-line.

The regulations provide for out of court dispute settlement procedures by granting powers to the supervisory authority the Malta Communications Authority to hear disputes between service providers and their customers.

The regulations introduce measures aimed at ensuring that information society service providers established in Malta are not subject to unnecessary bureaucracy. Information Society Service Providers will only be subject to the rules applicable in Malta even if they provide services in other member states according to what is commonly referred to as the country of origin principle. Furthermore such services will not be subject to any form of licensing regime. At the same time the regulations empower the Malta Communications Authority to take action to ensure compliance with the provisions of the regulations by service providers.

These proposed Regulations have been published for public consultation. This explanatory memorandum is intended to give an overview of the substantive provisions included in the Regulations. Both the Regulations and the explanatory memorandum are intended to be read in conjunction with the eCommerce Act. Reference must also be made to the Malta Communications Authority Act, Cap 418.