Thursday, 27 June 2019

Questions (223)

Michael McGrath


223. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has considered updating the Electronic Commerce Act 2000 in view of the fact that it is nearly 20 years old; his plans to make changes to section 10 of the Act to better enable electronic signatures to be used for mortgages, the transfer of mortgages, wills, probates and so on; if he has introduced measures to enable a qualified electronic signature to be used here as specified under the European regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27436/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

As Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I keep legislation under my remit under review as appropriate. With respect to the Electronic Commerce Act 2000, I have the power to make Regulations to widen the scope of the Act to include laws set out at section 10(1), which were excluded at the time of enactment. These excluded laws include matters related to those highlighted by the Deputy.

In order to make such Regulations under section 10(2), certain criteria must be satisfied. I, as Minister, must have formed the opinion that technology has advanced sufficiently and is widely available; that adequate procedures and practices have developed; or that such a change would be in the public interest. I am also required to undertake consultation with such Ministers that, in my view, have interest or responsibility in relation to the laws currently excluded and in that regard it would not be appropriate for me to act unilaterally. It would be a matter for the relevant Minister in the first instance to propose that a change is required, and to indicate that the conditions set out section 10(2) can be satisfied, after which such a proposal would be considered by my Department.

As regards qualified electronic signatures, Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market provides a framework for the recognition of qualified electronic signatures and has direct effect in Ireland.