(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Malaysia's Digital Signature Law to Take Effect in October
August 28, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) -- Malaysia's Digital Signature Act 1997
will be implemented on Oct. 1, paving the way for the use of digital
certificates in various e-commerce applications in the country.
|Energy, Telecommunications and Posts Minister Leo Moggie said that Certification
Authority providers may apply for licenses from the Department of Posts
as soon as the law goes into force.
Moggie said the director general of posts Nasaruddin Che Abu has been
appointed as Controller of Certification Authorities, and will be responsible
for regulating and authorizing licenses. Also, he will oversee the implementation
of the act, formulate relevant guidelines and regulations, and maintain
a publicly accessible database of disclosure records of each licensed
The new law opens the doors for branded Certification Authority providers
to sell their systems in the country if they satisfy prescribed requirements
of the controller. Moggie added that the criteria for selecting Certification
Authorities would be made public soon.
Malaysia is among the first countries in Asia to formulate laws governing
the use and application of digital signatures as a means to propel the
country into the digital economy.
The Digital Signature Act 1997 was passed by the Parliament last year
to address security and legal issues pertaining to electronic business
transactions, especially those conducted over the Internet.
The Act says that a document signed with a digital signature shall be
as legally binding as one signed with a handwritten signature, a thumb
print or any other appropriate mark. Digital signatures created with
public/private key cryptography systems are allowed to be used to authenticate
data or messages transmitted over computer networks.
The Act provides for penalties consisting of fines and jail terms for
those who purport to hold Certification Authority licenses or operate
as such without licenses. Those operating illegally can be fined a maximum
of 500,000 ringgit (about US$125,000) or jailed for 10 years, or both.
Nasaruddin said his office has had discussions with several agencies
and companies involved in electronic transactions, including the National
Central Bank, the Securities Commission, the Malaysian Electronic Payment
System Sdn. Bhd., the national oil company Petronas Bhd. and the standards
research body Sirim Bhd.
He said that the talks were focused on issues like consumer fees, application
processes and the responsibilities of the certificate-issuing office.
Earlier, Moggie launched the establishment of a local company, Digicert
Sdn. Bhd., which is one of the first to indicate its interest in becoming
a certification authority. The startup company, which is funded at 15
million ringgit, is a joint venture of Pos Malaysia Bhd., which holds
a 40 percent interest; Mimos Bhd., 30 percent; and GITN Sdn. Bhd., 30
(Julian Matthews, Asia BizTech Correspondent)