The European Electronic Messaging Association (EEMA) has launched a major initiative to drive forward the European digital certification market.
EEMA announced the creation of the European Certification Authority Forum (ECAF) at its annual conference in Amsterdam yesterday, in a bid to boost electronic commerce in Europe by uniting concerned parties.
ECAF will act to coordinate the work of different companies involved in digital certificates and signatures, to come to a common policy and standards. EEMA believes that, although the technology is being used more and more for security and authorisation in online transactions, there is no unity or control of its development.
Companies are developing their own standards and EEMA is concerned that they are heading off in different directions. ?We were beginning to see islands of security emerging,? said Chris Taper, acting chairman of EEMA.
The emergence of digital signatures is of great benefit to ecommerce, but the lack of a common standard can also be seen as its major inhibitor.
Roger Dean, executive director of EEMA, said: ?Digital certification will open up real ecommerce opportunities for European businesses, but without proper control it will end up as lots of propriety systems that don?t talk to each other. A common standard is fundamental if European businesses are to avoid slipping further behind their US counterparts.?
With reports earlier in the year that the advancement of the Internet and ecommerce has had a huge impact on the US economy, EEMA wanted Europe to reap the same rewards. ?We were concerned that the US was dominating the market,? said Dean, who believes a united front on digital certificates is essential to stop Europe lagging behind the US. ?Unless there are regulations across countries and codes of conduct then digital signatures won?t be a part of ecommerce," he added.
The ECAF initiative will comprise five tightly focused workgroups which will deal with technology, education and awareness, policy, best practice and legal issues.
Over 70 companies attended the inaugural meeting in Amsterdam yesterday including Lotus Development, Siemens Business Services, Shell, Smithkline Beecham as well as representatives from the US government and the European Commission.
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