The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia has adopted at the First Session of the Second regular meeting, held on October 17th, 2017, the Law on Electronic Document, Electronic Identification and Entrusted Services in Electronic Business (“Official Gazette of the RS”, no. 94/2017, hereinafter: the “Law”), which enters into force and is applicable as of October 27th, 2017.
Prior to adoption of the Law, the field of electronic business was regulated by laws rendered based on the Directive on Electronic Signatures 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, which was replaced with the new European regulation eIDAS (electronic ID And Services). Thus, the Law now harmonizes Serbian regulation with the EU regulation, but also with the Serbian Law on General Administrative Proceeding, bringing Serbia a step closer to the European standards in terms of complete regulation of all aspects of electronic business.
This Law replaces the Law on Electronic Signature (“Official Gazette of the RS”, no. 135/04) and Law on Electronic Document (“Official Gazette of the RS”, no. 51/09), and consolidates all the regulation in this area, harmonizes domestic regulation and as an “umbrella” law, regulates business affairs and transactions that could be realized with the use of electronic signatures, each having its level of reliability and identification. The Law enables improvement of the electronic business and electronic communication, including reliable electronic identification and electronic delivery which shall be as valid as a signature, stamp and paper documentation.
The preamble of the Law introduces some basic terms and definitions, while the second part of the Law is dedicated to electronic documents, whereas most provisions of this part of the Law have already been included in the Law on Electronic Document, and shall be additionally defined by bylaws rendered based on the Law. Certain provisions refer to the elements of the Law on General Administrative Procedure, in order of preventing collision between these two laws (in certification of documents).
The Law also regulates electronic identification and for the first time introduces the scheme of electronic identification which defines all the identification elements, as well as the levels of liability of the scheme of electronic identification. The competent Ministry shall report to the European Commission the registered schemes of electronic identification and as of September 2018, all the member states, as well as all the countries whose identification schemes have been approved, shall be obliged to mutually accept electronic identification documents. The Law also defines the registry of providers of electronic identification services, as well as the use of schemes of electronic identification (including the correspondence with the government).
The Law finally introduces a new institute to local regulation – entrusted services, which are defined as electronic services aimed to ease business activities between two or more parties, whereas the provider of services guarantees the validity of certain information, in accordance with the Law. Service providers must fulfil standardized and specific requirements which are directly connected with the scheme of electronic identification. Additionally, in order of improving cross-border cooperation, the Law defines qualified entrusted services. Providers of these services are provided with an opportunity to provide their services in other countries, whereas the list of qualified entrusted services is published by the competent Ministry, by assigning a special reliability sign which is defined by the Ministry, until Serbia becomes the member state of the European Union.
Certain entrusted services and their requirements are defined and regulated by the Law, some of them introduced to the Serbian regulation for the first time, such as services that refer to the use of stamp, used to guarantee the identity of a legal entity or services that are provided in the area of electronic delivery, authentication of websites and electronic storage of documentation.
The penalty provisions of the Law prescribe rather strict penalties for service providers, but also responsible persons in public or government body that disputes or does not recognize the validity and applicability of the electronic document prepared in accordance with the Law.
Complete application of the Law shall be enabled through 17 bylaws that should be rendered in the course of 6, 12 and 18 months upon entering into force of the Law.