About ILPFTo Join ILPFWorking Groups and PublicationsMember ResourcesEventsHome

  Electronic Authentication
  Self Regulation
  Content Liability

The Role Of Certification Authorities In Consumer Transactions
A Report Of The ILPF Working Group On Certification Authority Practices

Draft Dated April 14, 1997.

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Introduction
    1. Summary of the Problem
    2. Focus of this Report
    3. Goal of this Report
  3. Background
    1. Glossary
    2. Model Internet Commerce Transaction Utilizing Digital Signatures
    3. Why Use Certificates?
  4. Proposed Business Practices
    1. Tort v. Contract
    2. Obligation to Act Reasonably
    3. Consumers
    4. Merchants
    5. CAs
    6. Third Party Suppliers
    7. Limitations of Liability When All Parties Act Reasonably
    8. Limiting Consumer Liability for "Unreasonable" Behavior
    9. Implied Warranties
    10. CA's Limitations of Liability for Breach of Contract/Negligence
    11. Transborder Issues
  5. Next Steps
  6. Appendices
    1. Scope and Assumptions of the Drafters of this Report.
    2. Analysis of Open vs. Closed Systems.
    3. Survey of Laws Relating to Digital Signatures.
    4. Comparison of Current Business Practices of Selected Existing CAs.
    5. Bibliography of Selected Resources About Digital Signatures and CAs.
    6. Description of Digital Signatures.
    7. Analysis Of Existing CA's Compliance With Existing Legal Systems.
    8. Terms of Reference and Work Plan for the Working Group.


{0.1} This Report, "The Role of Certification Authorities in Consumer Transactions," is a work product of the Internet Law and Policy Forum. The Forum has been established by a consortium of companies from Europe, the Americas, and Asia in order to provide a neutral venue in which commerce, government and the stakeholders in the Internet community may gather to develop solutions to the challenging law and policy questions of the Internet. Further information on the Forum may be obtained on the Internet at www.ilpf.org.

{0.2} This Report was prepared by the Forum's Working Group on Certification Authority Practices. This Report has been prepared pursuant to the announced Work Plan and procedures of the Working Group on Certification Authority Practices. These materials are available from the Internet Law and Policy Forum at http://www.ilpf.org/work/ca.html. The Terms of Reference and the Work Plan are attached to this Report as Appendix 8. Pursuant to the Work Plan and the procedures of the Forum, the publication of this Report should not be considered to represent the views of any one or more of the Sponsors of the Forum or those companies or organizations nor should their participation necessarily be considered to endorse or recommend the contents of the Report in any manner. Any questions regarding this Report, the Forum or the Working Group may be addressed to info@ilpf.org or by contacting the Forum's offices in Montreal:

Internet Law & Policy Forum
World Trade Centre
Bureau 3280
380, rue Saint-Antoine Oues, bureau 3280
Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3X7
514.288.1966 (voice)
514.288.1177 (fax)

{0.3} The Working Group, and the companies and other organizations participating in the development of this Report, included the following:

Working Group

Bruce Hunter, General Electric Info. Services
Hong Kong Telecommunications
Colm Dobbyn, Mastercard Corporation
Barbara Fox, Microsoft Corporation
Peter Harter, Netscape Communications Corp.
David Schellhase, Premenos Corporation
John Makaryshyn, Telus Corporation
Andrew Konstantaras, VISA Corporation
Jeffrey Ritter, ILPF Organizing Chair (ex-officio)

Additional Participants

Entegrity Solutions
Institut Jozef Stefan
Nortel Secure Networks
OECD Committee on Consumer Policy
Signet Systems

{0.4} Legal Rapporteur--Cooley Godward LLP, Palo Alto, California. The Cooley Godward team included Terrence P. Maher (Boulder, CO), Eric Schlachter (Palo Alto, CA) and C. Bradford Biddle (San Diego, CA), with assistance from Melissa Richards (Boulder, CO) and Janice Phillips (Palo Alto, CA).
Technology Rapporteur--Manny Pasetes, Premenos Corporation.

{0.5} Input on German law issues provided by Christopher Kuner and Dr. Matthias Karl of Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch & Partners, Frankfurt, Germany.

{0.6} A list of CAs invited to participate in the process of developing this Report is also included on Exhibit A.

{0.7} The substance of this Report was completed in January, 1997, although portions have been updated since then. Except where otherwise specified, readers should assume that this Report is current through January 1, 1997.

Next | Back to Table of Contents

About ILPF | To Join ILPF | Working Groups & Publications
Member Resources | Events | Home