On November 2, 2019, the Law on Electronic Commerce was enacted, and will come into full-effect on May 2, 2020. While e-commerce is widespread and growing rapidly in Cambodia, the legal basis for many common practices and transactions was poorly defined, if at all. This law seeks to fix that.
The law covers domestic and cross-border e-commerce transactions, with 12 chapters covering the following topics:
1. General Provisions: sets forth the purpose, goals and scope of the law, and refers to the annex for definitions of terms.
2. Validity of Electronic Communications: legally recognizes electronic communications as valid, and sets forth requirements for digital signatures, maintaining information and records, and digital contracts.
3. Electronic Communications Process: elaborates on the foregoing chapter, with further provisions regarding when electronic communications are considered as sent or received, how digital contracts can be agreed, and the consequences for when someone inputs incorrect data.
4. Secure Electronic Records and Electronic Signatures: defines when an electronic record is considered secure, and how an e-signature may be made. The chapter also criminalizes identity theft and designates the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications as responsible for managing security procedures.
5. Intermediaries and Electronic Commerce Service Providers: limits both civil and criminal liability of intermediaries and e-commerce sites under certain conditions, but also establishes take-down obligations. This important chapter extends to a broad range of potential causes of action - from copyright infringement to product liability to defamation cases. Codes of conduct are to be drafted by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Ministry of Commerce.
6. Customer Protection: requires e-commerce providers to provide a minimum amount of information about themselves and their terms of service. Requires opt-out in all unsolicited commercial communications (i.e. spam), and establishes data protection standards for the first time.
7. Government Activities and Transactions in Electronic Systems: allows government institutions to transact online, including filing of documents, issuing permits, and accepting payment, under certain conditions.
8. Electronic Evidences: allows for submission and recognition of digital information in court proceedings, and sets forth the requirements. Also establishes the possibility of obtaining an Authenticity Certificate from the competent ministry or a court-appointed expert regarding an electronic record to be used in court.
9. Electronic Payments and/or Fund Transfers: operators of payment systems are required to obtain prior authorization from the National Bank of Cambodia. The chapter sets forth responsibilities of payment service providers, as well as their liability (for instance in the case of unauthorized charges or fraud). Customers are required to notify payment service providers of unauthorized, mistaken or wrongful transactions within two days of discovery.
10. Competency, Complaint and Procedures for a Fine: the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Ministry of Commerce are both empowered to issue sanctions for violation of this law, as well as to receive complains
11. Penalties: establishes sanctions for violation of the law, including warnings, withdrawal of business licenses, fines and imprisonment terms. The chapter also determines when a legal entity may be found criminally responsible, and the consequences.
12. Final Provision: all provisions contrary to the law are abrogated, and it comes into effect six months from publication - ie. May 2, 2020.
This long-awaited law will have wide-ranging applicability and effect, hopefully positively contributing to the growth of e-commerce in Cambodia. Businesses with any activity online are encouraged to ensure their practices are in compliance before the entry into effect of the law next year.