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General Usage for International Digitally Ensured Commerce (GUIDEC)


E-commerce is powerful because it enables companies and individuals from across the globe to engage in business transactions. However, this same advantage also can be a roadblock. Business standards that are deemed acceptable in one part of the world may be viewed quite differently in another region. Furthermore, when business transactions occur between parties on opposite sides of the globe, matters of security become major concerns. Determining the honesty and integrity of a business partner becomes more difficult. It was for reasons such as these that the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) developed General Usage for Digitally Ensured Commerce (GUIDEC)specific guidelines for ensuring the trustworthiness of digital transactions done via the Internet.

Encryption techniques are essential to e-commerce. They allow information to be scrambled before it is sent over a network like the Internet, and then de-scrambled by the person or company receiving the information. Keys are numeric sequences that make this possible. Often, the sender has a public key and the receiver has a private key. Digital signatures are another critical component of e-commerce. They allow senders of messages to electronically prove their legitimacy. Digital signatures or certificates are normally issued by third party authorities who do background checks before issuing them.

According to the ICC, GUIDEC "governs the use of public key cryptography for digital signatures and the role of a trusted third partycalled a certifierin establishing that holders of public keys are who they purport to be." Based in Paris, the ICC is a global business organization that represents companies and associations from more than 130 countries. It is involved in establishing guidelines and rules that companies voluntarily abide by when conducting international business transactions, and acts as an arbitrator to settle international commercial disputes.

Developed by experts in the legal, software, commercial banking, and certification authority fields, GUIDEC was first drafted in 1995, when it was called Uniform International Authentication and Certifications Practices (UIACP). Two years later, in November 1997, GUIDEC was unveiled to the world at the ICC's international conference, The World Business Agenda for Electronic Commerce. It was created as a living document, meaning that it can be modified as the world of e-commerce changes. The document takes different legal systems across the globe (both civil and common law) into consideration as related to e-commerce, and provides a glossary of core concepts and different best-practice examples companies can look to for clarification.


"E.commerce: GUIDEC." Hong Kong Telecommunications Users Group Newsletter, February, 1998. Available from

"GUIDEC." International Chamber of Commerce. February 27, 2001. Available from

Essick, Kristi. "Internet & I-Commerce: ICC Offers Guidelines to Standardize I-commerce Usage." InfoWorld, . November 17, 1997.

"Making Rules for Electronic Commerce." International Chamber of Commerce. November 14, 1997. Available from

Tiernan, Bernadette. e-tailing. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing Inc. 2000.

SEE ALSO: Cryptography, Public and Private Key; Digital Certificate; Digital Certificate Authority; Digital Signature; Digital Signature Legislation; Encryption; Global E-commerce Regulation

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