Object of the Act
The main object of the ECT Act is to enable and facilitate electronic communications and transactions in the public interest (Section 2(1)). Other objectives relevant to the establishment of the South African Accreditation Authority are:
- to promote universal access primarily in under-serviced areas;
- to promote the understanding and, acceptance of and growth in the number of electronic transactions in the Republic;
- to remove and prevent barriers to electronic communications in the Republic;
- to promote legal certainty and confidence in respect of electronic communications and transactions;
- to promote e-government services and electronic communications and transactions with public and private bodies, institutions and citizens;
- to ensure that electronic transactions in the Republic conform to the highest international standards;
- to encourage investment and innovation in respect of electronic transactions in the Republic;
- to develop a safe, secure and effective environment for consumer, business, and the Government to conduct and use electronic transactions;
- to promote the development of electronic transactions which are responsive to the needs of users and consumers;
- to promote stability of electronic transactions in the Republic.
- Duties and powers of the South African Accreditation Authority
The primary duty of the South African Accreditation Authority is to accredit authentication products and services used in support of electronic signatures. In terms of sections 36 to 40 of the Act, other duties (which stem from the primary duty) are to:
- monitor the conduct, systems and operations of accredited authentication service providers in order to ensure compliance with the Act and Accreditation Regulations;
- temporarily suspend or revoke the accreditation of an authentication product or service subject to the provisions of the Act and Regulations;
- maintain a publicly accessible database in respect of accredited authentication products and services and other prescribed information;
- appoint independent auditing firms to conduct periodic audits of authentication service providers to ensure compliance with section 38, and other obligations of authentication service providers in terms of the Act.
- suspend or revoke accreditation if it is satisfied that the authentication service provider has failed or ceases to meet any of the requirements, conditions or restrictions subject to which the accreditation was granted under section 38, or for which recognition was given in terms of section 40;
- setting, reviewing and amending standards for authentication service providers in respect of inter alia security, technology and procedures;
- issue policies governing the operations and procedures for the accreditation of the products and services of authentication service providers; and
- provide advice and assistance to authentication service providers, users as well as other Government forums, committees and working groups set up to implement e-commerce and e-government in South Africa.