New e-commerce bill which requires online stores to be hosted in Algeria has been approved

The new e-commerce bill in Algeria has been approved and passed by the People's Assembly and it will now be law. The e-commerce bill was initially presented on 6 February 2018 by Iman Houda Faraoun, Algeria's Minister of Post, Telecommunications, ICT and Digital Technology.

While presenting the bill earlier in February 2018, Faraoun explained that there's a possible risk that e-commerce operators pose to Algeria's sovereignty and economy. The bill also defines the obligations of both e-commerce operators and their online clients.

It's with that as a premise that the new law now requires all e-commerce operators, who intend to make their stores available to Algerians, to host their server/s physically in Algeria.

Some of the key highlights from the approved e-commerce bill:

  • E-commerce operators are to be registered in the national record of all e-commerce operators. a Commercial Register established by Algeria's National Centre of Companies Register (CNRC). To be included in registration by all e-commerce operators is information such as tax information, address, telephone number, trade register number, and commercial warranty.

  • The bill defines the ordering of any product as providing e-consumer with contractual terms, checking the details of the order and confirming the order and then concluding the transaction/contract.

  • Payment for online goods or services will only be accepted through payment types authorized by Algeria's laws.

Although it is possibly justified to criticize Algeria's approved e-commerce bill and question how possible it can be implemented, enforced and monitored, reading some of the key highlights suggests that the Algerian authorities were looking at e-commerce from a legal and sovereignty perspective. By forcing, however, they intend to punish those that are not complying will be a mammoth task considering Algerians can access any e-commerce website in the world, e-commerce operators to host their server/s in the North Afrikan country, it enables authorities to be able to enforce Algerian law on them including, among others, tax collection. This also allows the authorities in Algeria to indirectly ban cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin by stating that only approved payment methods can be used for online transactions.

As well-intentioned as it might appear from a legal and state sovereignty perspective, the new e-commerce bill in Algeria seems impractical as it would require ALL websites that sell goods online, and that Algerians buy from, to host servers in Algeria and comply with all the other conditions. This is not only impractical but also leaves a grey area of what really constitutes an e-commerce operator.

Cover image credit: Rendez-vous Ministre Houda Feraoun, Telecommunications, ICT and Digital Technology. | Youtube