Canada: E-Commerce: A Beginning Glossary

By Stephen D. McKersie ,

Published 4/1/00


The process of verifying the identity of an individual and/or the source and integrity of a message to ensure that the individual is who he or she claims to be and that the information received has not been tampered with during the electronic transmission.


The second stage of most electronic security systems in which an individual is granted or denied access to a particular network resource after the authenticity of the individual is confirmed; the process by which a credit card transaction is approved or denied by a card issuing bank.

Ad Banner

A graphic or text advertisement appearing on a Web page as an ancillary message to promote a particular product or service and link to the advertiser’s Web page or another Web site of its choice; currently the most popular form of online advertising.


A software application that enables a user to navigate, locate and view Web pages in text, graphic and multi-media formats.

Certificate Authority (CA)

The issuer of digital certificates and public-private encryption keys to an individual once the identity of the individual is confirmed, typically through a financial institution; a trusted third party that plays a critical role in the data security facet of electronic commerce.


Technology that tracks the electronic navigational path of Web users for various purposes including Web site audience tracking, ad banner tracking and Intranet security and performance monitoring.

Digital Cash

The virtual equivalent of real money in the form of a digital certificate issued by a participating bank and representing a specific sum of currency. Unlike credit card based systems, digital cash is anonymous and may be reused by the merchant in another e-commerce transaction or redeemed by the issuing bank.

Digital Certificate

An encrypted attachment to an E-mail message that provides for the authentication of the identity of the individual; issued by a CA.

Digital Signature

A digital code attached to an electronic message that uniquely identifies the individual and verifies the integrity of the message.

Digital Certificate Authority (CA)

A trusted third party organization with authority to issue digital certificates, public and private encryption keys.

Domain Name

A name designation, including a suffix indicating which top level domain it belongs to (i.e. .com, .edu), representing one or more IP addresses assigned to particular Web pages.


Any form of business conducted online, such as buying and selling products, performing customer service functions, marketing, public relations, advertising and any other business function.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

The transfer of business information between two or more parties across a network, such as the Internet. For example, a global computer network has been established to facilitate transactions and the exchange of information between banks and other institutions via EDI.


The conversion of data into unreadable code to prevent unauthorized viewing and to otherwise ensure data security as it is transmitted across the Internet to an intended recipient.


A system designed to regulate the flow of data into a private network by filtering out data which the application is not configured to accept.

Issuing Bank

A bank that maintains an individual’s credit card account and provides payment to a merchant’s account if a transaction is processed through an online credit card based system.

Independent Service Organization (ISO)

A firm responsible for processing online credit card transactions in exchange for a transaction fee.

Micropayment / Microbilling

Small electronic payments, often values of less than one dollar, typically incurred as a result of downloading or access charges.

Real Time Transaction

An electronic payment transaction that is processed and validated immediately after the order form is submitted by a purchaser.

Secure Electronic Transaction (SET)

A standard which will enable secure e-commerce transactions over the Internet by employing digital signatures for authentication purposes and encryption technology to ensure that only the issuing bank can access the credit card number and/or other confidential information transmitted.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

A Netscape developed protocol for transmitting confidential data over the Internet using encryption technology.

Shopping Cart

A software application that facilitates a Web site’s ordering process by interfacing both with the Web site and the internal information residing on the Web server; the software collects and records the details of specific purchasing decisions made by a purchaser.

Stephen McKersie, an Associate in the Ottawa office, practises in the areas of general corporate and commercial law. He can be reached by telephone at (613) 786-8654 and by e-mail at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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