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The New Electronic Transactions and Trust Services Law Signals a New Stage of Digital Transformation in the UAE


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A new Electronic Transactions and Trust Services Law, Federal Decree-Law No. 46 of 2021 has recently been issued by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) and ushered in a new stage of digital transformation in the UAE. The new law repeals the existing e-transactions and e-commerce law, the Federal Law No.1 of 2006. The new law comes into force on 2 January 2022 and mandates legal compliance 12 months from this date.

Rolling out of this new law is in line with the European eIDAS regulation and introduces regulatory frameworks for safe access of online services and carrying out digital transactions online. The new law aims to position UAE as a leading digital economy and enhance national business and economic indicators including the Ease of Doing Business Index, Online Services Index (OSI), the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, the Global Competitiveness Index and other indices.

The law outlines measures to regulate Electronic Identification and Trust Services in the country. While the issuance of controls regarding trust services will lie with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, the law will be regulated by TDRA issuing the standards and procedures of electronic identification and verification such as a digital ID in consultation with the concerned parties.

Electronic identification will enable businesses and consumers to identify and authenticate themselves online and electronic trust services will enhance security through Electronic Signatures, Electronic Seals, Electronic Time Data and Electronic Document Delivery. The law shall also regulate the validity of all documents as in the old law.

Trust services are defined as electronic services that create, verify and validate electronic or digital signatures, time stamps, seals and certificates. They may also authenticate websites and preserve the signatures, seals and certificates that are created. A person or legal entity who handles such trust services is called trust service provider (TSP).

All trust service providers must get a license from the TDRA however the details of licensing requirements have not yet been published. All the licensed trust service providers will be provided with a ‘Trust Mark’ by the TDRA as evidence of government certified trust services complying with all the legal requirements of the soil.

As per the new law, the TDRA shall prepare a ‘UAE Trust List’ to document all the certified licensees and subsequently publish the list with details of their trust services. The authority shall specify all the regulatory requirements for the service providers for being eligible for inclusion in the list.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the TDRA, Talal Humaid Belhoul highlighted saying “The issuance of the Electronic Transactions and Trust Services Law comes into effect at an important stage in the history of our country, as we celebrate the golden jubilee of the UAE. In this stage, we start a new chapter towards the UAE Centennial 2071 by enhancing digital transformation that impacts the economy, society, and the whole life in the UAE,”

Director-General of the TDRA, Majed Sultan Al Mesmar remarked, “The issuance of the decree-law on Electronic Transactions and Trust Services marks a start of a new stage in the process of comprehensive digital transformation in the UAE. This law deals with many details of the daily life of the various segments of society, including individuals and companies. It will have a positive impact on the higher goals of the country, in terms of promoting the digital economy and consolidating the global reputation of the UAE as an investment hub.”

UAE government, in its stride for a nationwide digital transformation, introduced the new law for improving the licensing processes of digital services that support all transactions including civil, commercial and all real estate transactions. The effectiveness of the judiciary shall be vastly improved with the easy and early settlement of all civil and commercial disputes. The law shall also enhance the acceptance and creation of records through easily accessible and retrievable electronic files.

Government procurements can be done quickly and also at a lower cost through electronic bidding and tendering. Issuance of permits and licenses shall be simple with digital signatures, electronic payment of fees and approvals accorded in the form of electronic records. All cross border transactions shall be easy, safe and secure.


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