Friday, 25 March 2011

I am often asked about what IT laws does Brunei have, so It might be a good time to just say a few things about this.

Brunei has three main pieces of legislation dealing with IT - these are the Electronic Transactions Act (Cap. 196),the Broadcasting Act (Cap. 180) and the Computer Misuse Act (Cap. 194).

The Electronic Tansactions Act as its long title states, makes provision for the security and use of electronic transactions and for connected purposes. This act gives legal effect to any information which is in the form of an electronic record. This means that a contract is still binding even if it solely made via electronic means. This may sound like a given today, but the concept of an electornic contract spawned much debate including questions on whether there should be law to regulate electronic contracts. We took the pragmatic view that an electronic is merely a medium by which a contract can be made. Laws governing contracts stil apply despite the contract being made in cyberspace thereby it is unnecessary to pass a new contract law.

However, it is important to note the exceptions to certain contracts which will not be given legal effect in its electronic form in Brunei. These are any legal instrument or document under any written law relating to Islamic law; the creation or execution of a will under any written law relating wills; negotiable instruments; the creation, performance or enforcement of an indenture; declaration of trust or power of attorney with the exception of constructive and resulting trusts; any contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property, or any interest in such property; the conveyance of immovable property or the transfer of any interest in such property and documents of title relating to immovable property.

At the time of writing, Part X of the act relating to the Regulation of Certification Authorities have not come into force.

The Broadcasting Act regulates the dealing in, the operation of and ownership in broadcasting services and broadcasting apparatus, and for connected purposes. The Internet as we know it, is the most powerful broadcasting medium on earth and it comes as no surprise that the regulation of the provision of and the use of Internet services come under the purview of the Braodcasting Act.

Two important subsidiary legislation are published under the Broadcasting Act and these are the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification and the Internet Code of Practice Notification. The class licence notification is an ingenious licensing scheme established to recognize the fact that it is impossible to make anyone apply for a licence to use the Internet. A licensing scheme called a class licence is created so that anyone who uses the Internet in Brunei, is deemed to be a licensee under the Broadcating Act. And by being a licensee, a user is bound by the terms and conditions set out under the Class Licence, thereby taking the phrase 'ignorance of the law is not a defence' to new heights because even if you've never read the t&c s of the Class Licence, you're automatically bound by it simply by using the Internet.

Among the more important conditions are ensuring that any broadcasting service is not against the public interest or national harmony or which offends against good taste or decency.

Look out for my post on the Computer Misuse Act in my next post. Till then, stay safe on the Web.

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