The EDI Mechanism
1 Answer

According to the UNCITRAL def‌inition, “Electronic data interchange (EDI)" means the electronic transfer from computer to computer of information using an agreed standard to structure the information.

The use of modem means of communication such as electronic mail and electronic data interchange (EDI) for the conduct of international trade transactions has been increasing rapidly and is expected to develop further as technical supports such as information highways and the INTERNET become more widely accessible. However, the communication of legally signif‌icant information in the form of paperless messages may be hindered by legal obstacles to the use of such messages, or by uncertainty as to their legal effect or validity. The purpose of Cyber Law is to provide a set of internationally acceptable statute as to how a number of such legal obstacles may be removed, and how a more secure legal environment may be created for what has become known as “electronic commerce".

The decision by UNCITRAL to formulate model legislation on electronic commerce was taken in response to the fact that in a number of countries the existing legislation governing communication and storage of information is inadequate or outdated because it does not contemplate the use of electronic commerce. In certain cases, existing legislation imposes or implies restrictions on the use of modern means of communication, for example by prescribing the use of "written", "signed“ or “original“ documents. While a few countries have adopted specif‌ic provisions to deal with certain aspects of electronic commerce, there exists no legislation dealing with electronic commerce as a whole. This may result in uncertainty as to the legal nature and validity of information presented in a form other than a traditional paper document. Moreover, while sound laws and practices are necessary in all countries where the use of EDI and electronic mail is becoming widespread, this need is also felt in many countries with respect to such communication techniques as telecopy and telex.

Certain type of acknowledgement, for example, a UN/EDIFACT (United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange Financial and Commercial Telecommunication) message establishing that the data message received is syntactically correct, i.e., that it can be processed by the receiving computer. The reference to technical requirements, which is to be construed primarily as a reference to "data syntax“ in the context of EDI communications, may be less relevant in the context of the use of other means of communication, such as telegram or telex. In addition to mere consistency with the rules of "data syntax“, technical requirements set forth in applicable standards may include, for example, the use of procedures verifying the integrity of the contents of data messages. A robust communication network would provide the channel for instant/intact transmission of the message. The message transmitted over the network should make sense to the receiver of the message and this is possible only if the transmitter as well as the receiver is adopting the same message formats. For achieving/ensuring this standardisation of message formats is required.

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