Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


Argentina has been experiencing rapid growth in internet accessibility and E-commerce, but its E-commerce laws need to be updated. The nation enacted a Digital Signature Law (“DSL”) in 2001. Digital signatures and documents are valid in Argentina if they meet stringent security requirements and can be used to comply with legal requirements for: a handwritten signature; a paper document; an original paper document; and retention of a paper document. A digital certificate must be issued by a licensed certification authority (“CA”) and must accurately identify the subscriber. The CA will issue a private key to the subscriber with the certificate, and the CA must revoke the certificate if security is compromised. CA’s are licensed and regulated by the federal government and may be audited and sanctioned for legal violations.

CA’s may be responsible for damages incurred by third parties due to the CA’s acts or omissions. Exemplary attributes of this law include: (1) mandatory licensing of CA’s; (2) the rights and responsibilities of subscribers; (3) mandatory E-government with free CA service; and (4) the authorization of Registration Authorities to work for CA’s in the processing of applications for certificates. The DSL provides a satisfactory legal foundation for Argentine E-commerce, but it needs to be calibrated and supplemented. Recommended changes and additions to Argentine E-commerce law include: (1) enactment of a comprehensive Electronic Transactions Law which will incorporate all laws pertinent to E-commerce, including E-contract rules; (2) recognition of the validity of the electronic form in compliance with several additional requirements of other statutes, including notarization; (3) deletion of all exclusions from coverage, which will potentially allow E-signatures and E-documents to be used in all situations; (4) addition of rules for electronic automated contracts and electronic carriage contracts; (5) addition of consumer protections for E-buyers; (6) establishment of Information Technology Courts for resolution of E-commerce disputes; (7) creation of long-arm jurisdiction over foreign E-commerce parties; (8) licensing of the Argentine Post Office as a CA; (9) adoption of a National ID Card containing a digital signature which can be activated by a CA, including the Post Office; (10) enactment of computer crimes, including Intentional Injection of a Virus into a Computer System; and (11) enactment of a third-generation E-signature law to replace the first-generation DSL.