In this concluding part of our discussion, we shall be taking a look at the Electronic Transaction Bill 2011, which is still before the National Assembly, with a view to finding out how it can potentially help in providing a better legal framework for business transactions done over the internet in Nigeria. But before we go into some of the details, let’s put some perspective into our analysis.
Most of the issues we have with e-commerce in Nigeria seem to revolve largely upon the “anonymity” that beclouds the whole process. If you look at our discussions in the previous week, you would see the context to that. Some writers have identified certain issues too. Let’s do a quick roundup.
Data protection has been one of the major issues hampering the penetration of e-commerce in Nigeria. We value our privacy. Don’t we? More privacy concerns are usually expressed when personal financial details are involved such as ATM card information, usernames, passwords and PINs. There is a paucity of legal regulation on online merchants as to the protection of users’ data here in Nigeria. Granted, these websites usually have privacy policies. With the backing of the law, we can really get these merchants to deliver on those policies.
A closely related issue is the security of payment systems for goods and services. With issues ranging from identity theft, phishing and related hacking modules, transactions done on the internet could sometimes go south. We’ve discussed this point in a previous article. Having said all these, let’s see the extent to which we can rely on the Electronic Transaction Bill 2011 as a panacea to some of the issues discussed when it is finally passed.
Section 21(1) of the draft bill provides that “a person using electronic communications to sell goods and services to consumers shall provide accurate, clear and accessible information about themselves, sufficient to-
(a) Identify the legal name of the person, its principal geographic address, and an electronic means of contact or telephone number;
(b) Facilitate prompt, easy and effective consumer communication with the seller; and
(c) Allow service of legal process.”
As with traditional corporate businesses, the interventions of the bill in the area of physical identification of the “seller” will facilitate the enforcement of consumer rights in online transactions.
Section 21(2) further provides that “a person using electronic communications to sell goods or services to consumers shall provide accurate and accessible information describing the goods or services offered, sufficient to enable consumers to make an informed decision about the proposed transaction and to maintain an adequate record of the information.”
Subsection (3) also provides that “a person using electronic communications to sell goods or services to consumers shall provide information about the terms, conditions and costs associated with a transaction, and notably –
(a) Terms, conditions and methods of payment; and
(b) Details of and conditions related to withdrawal, termination, return, exchange, cancellation and refund policy information.”
In conclusion, we can immediately see how the provisions of this Bill as considered, could help in addressing some of the issues we’ve been considering. However, we will not attempt to assume that it will effectively handle all the issues besetting e-commerce in Nigeria but it is a step in the right direction.
We’ve an interesting topic coming! Make it a date next week.