un convention electronic communications

White House Response to the UN Convention on Electronic Communications

By Amanda Osorio

It seems like a no longer accurate statement to say the world is “moving online:” it’s already there. There are more computers in the home and businesses than ever before, the Internet and mobile data plans keep us connected, and companies are signing contracts and making deals without ever actually meeting the person on the other side. Unfortunately, it seems that all too frequently the world moves ahead while laws get left behind and only catch up out of necessity.

In an official Message to the Senate, released February 10, 2016, President Barack Obama outlined his opinion of and interest in the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (“Electronic Communications Convention”). The Convention was adopted on November 23, 2005, and entered into force on March 1, 2013. As of yet, the United States has not signed or ratified this Convention. In his message, President Obama acknowledges that the Electronic Communications Convention is quite similar to State laws enacted throughout the US, which are based on the 1999 Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”). It’s also similar to federal law, namely the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.

Ratification and implementation of the Electronic Communications Convention would create universal legal uniformity throughout the US and a sense of predictability that is currently missing. The result, President Obama provides, could be a reduction in costs for US businesses that use electronic communications and engage in electronic commerce.

The Electronic Communications Convention aims to facilitate the use of electronic communications used in international trade by assuring businesses that the contracts they’re signing and other communications that are exchanged via email and other electronic methods are just as valid and enforceable as the traditional paper contracts. The Electronic Communications Convention works to remove obstacles created by older international laws, including the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, and the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.

President Obama’s message goes on to advise the Senate that the US was the one to propose the Electronic Communications Convention and actively participated in its discussions and negotiations. The President suggests that adoption of the Convention would be a sign for other nations to do the same and could result in further facilitation of electronic commerce across borders.

The President outlines in his message how the Electronic Communications Convention would be adopted into US law and the process that would be followed, including the presentation of the Convention to Congress. He ends his letter by requesting that the Senate provide “early and favorable consideration… and give its advice and consent to ratification.”

If accepted and ratified, the United States would be the 8th party to ratify the Electronic Communications Convention.

For more information regarding the Electronic Communications Convention and how it could impact you and your business contact Revision Legal’s Internet attorneys through this form or by calling 855-473-8474.

Image credit to Flickr user Garfield Anderssen

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