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A B2B Net marketplace is a commerce site that enables communities of buyers and sellers to meet on the Internet and to trade. B2B marketplaces eliminate the inherent inefficiencies in traditional markets by improving the relationship between buyers and suppliers, reducing supply chain costs, and promoting price discovery.

Trust is the bedrock of commerce systems. As they reshape B2B commerce relationships and replace traditional commerce structures, B2B marketplaces must address how they intend to provide trust, enforce contracts, and establish a legal framework. The trustworthiness and integrity of an electronic commerce system ultimately boil down to the trustworthiness of the underlying key distribution system, which is as trustworthy as the certification authority that operates it. Certification authorities are as trustworthy as their certification practices and the accounting firms that ensure their accreditation.

Trust must be verifiable, and electronic commerce transactions must be nonreputable. The digital signature bill gives electronic signatures the same legal authority as signatures written with pen and ink; the electronic medium now has the same legal effect and enforceability as the medium of paper. Digital signatures are the building blocks for verifiable, nonrefutable trust in electronic commerce systems. Digital signatures, however, must be time stamped to ensure that they last forever.

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