Conference on e-business - conclusions

A Conference was held on last 30 March at Culturgest, in Lisbon, under the theme E-business in Portugal ? the legal framework and business, organized by ANACOM, having been largely attended ? more than 1000 participants.

The realization of this conference, which was a dynamic and interactive approach to e-business, was a privileged moment of reflection and information on many different subjects associated with this reality.

The subjects were divided into two panels: a first panel focused on the legal aspects, presenting the main guidelines of the legal regime of e-business, mainly where it aims at increasing safety in electronic transactions and circulation of information, as well as the trust of users, and a second panel focused on the business aspects, in which, together with the presentation of case studies regarding the implementation of e-business in Portugal, the issues of safety of electronic transactions and taxation in the Internet were also discussed.

Legal approach

As to electronic contracting, it was highlighted the way how the new regime, in a solution that has not only faced controversial problems, but has also exceeded the minimum requirements of the European directives, aims to, on the one hand, eliminate the barriers to electronic contracting through reinforcement of legal safety and, on the other hand, reinforce the rights of consumers. On the other hand, and as far as circulation of information is concerned, it was highlighted the introduction of new legal instruments to fight against illegal online activity and contents, namely specific duties of prevention in charge of the intermediary service providers concerning the activities of mere conduit, caching, hosting and content aggregation. However, preference was given to the absence of a general obligation of supervision on the transmitted or stored information or investigation of possible offences practiced within that scope.

The unsolicited communications issue, usually referred to as spam, deserved a special reference. They underlined the legal adoption of a radical approach to fight against this phenomenon, following the European directive, the opt-in regime being established as far as unsolicited communications for the purposes of direct marketing are concerned, according to which sending of the same will depend on the prior consent of the respective recipients, except for the messages sent to legal persons or within the scope of a prior commercial relationship.

Economic Approach

In the economic approach, several case studies were presented, namely and portals, Tradecom and MS Market. After a brief presentation of the company, the business and the support technologies, they underlined the good results that have been achieved and the optimistic expectation as regards the future of the projects and the development of e-business inPortugal. Then, the presentation of the National E-Buying Programme allowed us to become aware of the guidelines of the Portuguese Government Action Plan adopted with the purpose of becoming the leader in e-buying and, through this mean and through the development of several other initiatives, to promote massive use of electronic contracting.

As to safety in electronic transactions, in particular as regards payments through the Internet, the challenges and benefits that are expected with the generalization of a safe payment system were identified and the technological solutions already created with this purpose were presented, after which the urgency in encouraging the market to promote massive use of safe solutions by companies and citizens was stressed.

Last, as regards taxation in the Internet, the presentation focused on the need to adapt the classic concepts of Tax Law to the taxation of online activities ? namely the concepts of residence, source of income and stable establishment ?, and on the main guidelines regarding consumption taxation.

All participants in this conference received a manual on e-business, prepared by ANACOM with the collaboration of the Office for Legislative Policy and Planning from the Ministry of Justice, Professor José de Oliveira Ascensão, Sonae and Portugal Telecom Groups and Microsoft Portugal, which aims to be one more contribution to increase information on this matter and to raise awareness towards all the benefits associated with the use of e-business, now based on a safe legal basis.

This conference, which had as commissioner Manuel Alves Monteiro, coordinator of UMD-CE, was attended, among others, by the speakers Diogo Vasconcelos, manager of UMIC ? Unidade de Missão, Inovação e Conhecimento and Professors José de Oliveira Ascensão, José Saldanha Sanches, Luís Menezes Leitão and António Nogueira Leite. The opening speeches of this conference were given by Álvaro Dâmaso, President of ANACOM, the Minister of Justice and the Assistant Secretary of State of the Minister of Economy.