Search terms: E-commerce
The new E-commerce Law establishes the rules governing, among other things,
e-commerce activity and information society services, and the protection of parties to such transactions. The definition of 'information society services' set out in the law includes services provided at a distance by electronic means, on the request of the recipient, against compensation.
On May 18 2005 the Senate approved Law 26,032 on Internet Services in order to include the search, receipt and dissemination of information and ideas through the Internet within the constitutional guaranty that safeguards the freedom of expression.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has now signed agreements to introduce two new global internet top level domains into competition with .com: .biz and .info. This update describes the pre-registration process for these domains.
The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 (Cth) received royal assent on December 21 2000. The new regime will potentially have an impact on e-commerce transactions. Senate amendments to the bill were rejected, although may be considered at a later date.
There have been over 2,000 cases this year of individuals and businesses laying complaints with the World Intellectual Property Organization, as the international body responsible for determining who is entitled to register domain names. This update looks at some high-profile Australian cases and what Australia will be doing next to protect and enhance the use of domain names.
The Internet poses a challenge for Australian regulators. They have to deal with fraud that could impact on Australia even though it is perpetrated on a global scale.
The government has announced that certain provisions of the Privacy Act will be extended to cover the private sector, motivated in part by a desire to provide a solid legislative structure to support the growing e-commerce sector.
In a conflict between a domain name and another person's trademark the content of the domain is key. In a recent decision the Supreme Court had to decide whether to apply the same principle if the conflict is between a domain name and another person's name.
The Hamburg Landgericht has issued a surprising ruling that the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) '.at' has no direct reference to Austria. The court reached a general conclusion that ccTLDs do not possess sufficient distinction to impose residency requirements on the registrant of such a domain name.
For the first time, the Supreme Court has ruled on the issue of whether the costs of a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) procedure for a domain name dispute can be claimed as damages from the defeated party.
The Supreme Court has clarified two aspects of the E-commerce Act, defining the main features of the term 'information services' and specifying contact details that ought to appear on websites. The defendant in question advertised websites where the price of goods and services was not displayed, as well as free access to live webcam transmissions when in fact access was not free.
The Austrian Data Protection Commission recently decided that an internet service provider which offers website hosting services is a data processor under the EU Data Protection Act. The commission ruled that a person who processes personal data merely by storing it is considered to be a processor if he acts in accordance with the instructions of the controller.
The Supreme Court has ruled that if a website merely advertises a product or service and no contract can be concluded through it, then the service provider need not make contractual terms and conditions available in accordance with Section 11 of the E-commerce Act.
The development of the Bahamas into an international e-commerce and e-business centre has been spectacular. From the creation of the Public Utilities Commission in 2000 to the appointment of a data protection commissioner in 2007, the aim of every administration has been to make the Bahamas a global leader in e-commerce.
The Act on the Abusive Registration of Domain Names entitles the applicant to seek judicial relief, similar to a motion for summary judgment but without the need to establish that the matter is urgent, leading to a decision on the merits. The court can order that the registration be annulled or that the domain name be transferred to the plaintiff, and may also order publication of the decision.
In addition to common civil remedies, there are four main types of penalty available under Belgian e-commerce law: cease-and-desist order, warning, settlement and criminal penalties. In addition, special investigatory powers are vested in the minister for the Federal Public Service Economy.
Under the Belgian E-commerce Act, an internet service provider (ISP) is released from liability in cases where it acts as a mere conduit or provides caching and hosting activities. However, where illegal content is discovered, ISPs are obliged to notify and collaborate with the public prosecutor.
Belgian law contains a catch-all clause providing that the formal legal requirements for a contract will be deemed fulfilled in the case of an electronic contract if the necessary functional elements are present. The government has the power to amend any law that impedes or could impede the execution of contracts by electronic means.
Under Belgian law, commercial communications can be sent only to those who have expressed their consent in advance. This is a 'soft' opt-in system, as consent is not required for each subsequent communication. However, a disadvantage lies in the difficulty of obtaining the recipient's initial consent - the situation on this point is far from clear.
The Belgian e-commerce legislation introduced information requirements which apply to all electronic contracts. The requirements aim to ensure transparency in transactions concluded by electronic means. Among other things, they specify the information which a service provider must make available to the competent authorities and to the service recipient when concluding a contract.
In recent years the judiciary has implemented electronic communication solutions for procedural acts in Brazil. Following uncertainty regarding the forwarding of electronic petitions, the Superior Labour Court has recently published Normative Instruction 28, which permits the use of email through a centralized website for certain administrative procedures regarding the labour courts.
In the wake of the digitization of legal procedures, the Supreme Court president has instituted an electronic system that permits registered lawyers to use email in the course of the court's procedural acts. The system involves the digital printing and registration of documents by the Procedural Registration and Information Coordination Department.
A number of initiatives are set to bring the issue of spamming to the attention of Congress, particularly given that the E-commerce and Development Report 2003, published in November last year by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, ranked Brazil as the world’s fourth biggest recipient of spam.
The unique nature of electronic transactions highlights the need for specific regulations to resolve such issues. Fortunately, Brazilian law does recognize electronic documents and digital signatures through ICP-Brasil. Nevertheless, specific legislation for electronic transactions remains imperative.
A new decree sets out the duties of the country's Internet Management Committee. These include the establishment of strategic policies relating to the use and development of the Internet in Brazil, and organizational issues such as domain name registration, the allocation of internet protocol addresses and how best to manage the '.br' top-level domain.
The second panel of judges of the First District of the Highest Court of Appeals has decided that the services provided by Brazilian internet access providers are not liable to value-added tax (VAT). The issue of VAT aside, a debate has now commenced as to whether such activities should be subject to municipal service tax.
A recent government survey has shown that electronic service delivery is no longer the priority that it once was. The survey showed subtle shifts in the way the government sees the role of information technology, with only 25% of respondents citing electronic services as a pressing policy issue.
A Québec court has ruled that a company violated the Charter of the French Language by failing to provide a French version of its website. In addition, the federal government has issued regulations to complete the definition of 'secure electronic signature' given in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The federal government is planning major changes in the way it serves Canadian citizens. Ottawa is considering consolidating its services under the banner of Services Canada, the tentative name for a super-agency that has been two years in the making. It would provide an online one-stop shop for Canadian citizens in need of various services
Export Development Canada and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service have joined forces to expand the tools available to Canadian exporters on the online Virtual Trade Commissioner service. The Newfoundland Registry of Deeds and Companies has also taken an important step towards modernizing its operations with the launch of new online electronic services.
The Canadian privacy commissioner has taken a strict approach to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act in a case involving unsolicited commercial email. The commissioner found that business email addresses can be classed as personal information and are therefore subject to the act's protection.
The government of British Columbia has launched the OneStop Business Registry, an improved e-government service designed to meet modern business needs. The registry provides a portal through which people starting, moving or expanding a business can contact a wide range of public agencies.
Bills that recognize electronic documents and contracts as being valid before courts of law are expected to be enacted soon. This is a significant development because according to current legislation judges can only consider as sufficient those types of evidence listed in the Civil Procedural Code, to the exclusion of electronic documents.
A ruling by the Court of Appeal of Concepcion provides a precedent for internet crimes, holding internet providers liable for any offensive and unlawful material that appears on web sites.
A law to protect privacy in the processing of personal data includes so many contradictory and confusing provisions, that is effect may well be minimal.
Operating online can have its challenges. As online trading is quite a new phenomenon in China, as yet there is no perfect solution to the problems connected with it. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued the Provisional Measures for the Administration of Trade and Services on the Internet, a first-of-its-kind prescriptive document designed specifically to regulate trading conduct on the Internet.
On April 1 2005 China's first national level e-commerce legislation, the Electronic Signatures Law, came into effect. By giving legal weight to electronic signatures and to the creation and storage of business documents in electronic form, the law will not only facilitate online transactions, but also spur on the security and encryption business.
A recent decree aims to prevent access to child pornography on the Internet. The law places obligations on internet service providers, web hosting companies and corporate users to filter and restrict access to illegal content. Infringements will be punished by fines, suspensions or removal of the offending web page.
In March 2002 Colombia became party to the World Intellectual Property Organization's Copyright Treaty (WCT). The treaty will help to protect copyrights on the Internet and create the necessary conditions for a wide and legitimate distribution of creative works on the Internet.
The Colombian Administrative Court recently ruled that the Colombian country code top-level domain name '.co' is part of the Colombian national and cultural identity, and its administration is a public service which must be regulated by the state. This ruling may bring about a change in the domain name's administrator.
The Colombian Congress has approved a law on the access to and use of digital signatures in electronic commerce, and on the creation of certification entities. However, the law has yet to be implemented by further regulations and issues relating to foreign exchange, intellectual property and taxation have yet to be addressed.
Amendments to the Electronic Commerce Act are aimed at fully harmonizing Croatian e-commerce regulations with the relevant EU laws. By implementing these amendments, Croatia has aligned its rules with the requirements of the EU E-Commerce Directive, thus fulfilling one of the benchmarks for closing Chapter 10 of the ongoing accession negotiations.
In a recent ruling a court awarded a modest sum to a foreign company that was a victim of domain name piracy. The money was awarded despite the fact that the registrant did not use the domain name for any specific illegal purpose other than preventing the rightful owner from registering it.
The liability of information service providers, such as internet service providers (ISPs), is a complex issue that must often be resolved under the law and jurisdiction of several countries. It is therefore necessary to analyze public and private international law. This update reviews the different types of ISP liability and the principles applicable to informative liability.
From September 2009 the validity period for Finnish domain names will be extended to a maximum period of five years at a time. Under the amended Domain Name Act it will be possible to reserve '.fi' domain names or a period of one, three or five years at a time.
The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority is to improve its '.fi' domain name service by introducing a one-year validity period for domain names. Once the change enters into force, it will be possible to apply for, renew or transfer a '.fi' domain name to another holder for a period of one or three years.
In a pivotal case the Turku Court of Appeal held that an Åland Islands lottery association which marketed its products to consumers in mainland Finland was not 'organizing a lottery' in Finland within the meaning of the Lottery Act. The location of the association's internet server and management on the islands, which are an autonomous region of Finland, proved decisive.
On February 1 2003 two new e-commerce related acts entered into force. Under one act, advanced electronic signatures which are based on a qualified certificate and created by a secure creation device now have the same legal validity as handwritten signatures. The second act clarifies the requirements for electronic communications conducted by administrative authorities.
The Domain Names Act creates a more flexible domain name registration system. The most important change under the new act is that '.fi' top-level domain names will be issued on a first come, first served basis, and applicants will no longer be required to have a registered right to the name. The act also provides for the revocation and disconnection of domain names.
The Nordic consumer ombudsmen recently agreed a position statement relating to electronic transactions. The statement supplements national legislation and covers issues including marketing methods, the gathering of personal data and guidelines for establishing the target country of marketing.
The Supreme Court has rendered four anticipated rulings in relation to Google's liability for its paid referencing service, AdWords. The four rulings implement the ruling of the European Court of Justice, which considered the cases in a referral, and annul the appeal rulings that held Google liable for trademark infringement.
In accordance with the government's aim of liberalizing the online gambling sector before the 2010 World Cup, the National Assembly recently adopted the proposed legislation as presented by the Senate so that it could be ratified and promulgated. However, the Socialist opposition has challenged the terms for liberalization before the Constitutional Council.
Search engines are not subject to a statutory liability regime. In a recent case the Paris Court of Appeal reiterated several rules relating to the technical role of a search engine. Within this framework, the court reiterated search engines' obligations and then determined how they may be held liable.
The website Fuzz.fr has been found liable as a publisher for posting a link directing users to a separate website that contained gossip about French actor Olivier Martinez’s relationship with singer Kylie Minogue. One of the main issues faced by French courts is how to determine liability for illicit user-generated content.
The Supreme Court recently endorsed the European Court of Justice's position on the compatibility of member states' gambling legislation with the EC Treaty in a dispute between the French monopoly holder for online betting on horseracing and a Maltese operator of online betting activities. The decision established the criteria under which EU law is possibly breached.
In the recent Axa Case three insurance companies sued Google Inc and Google France for trademark infringement, unfair competition and misleading advertising. In direct contradiction with established precedents of the High Court, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that courts do not have jurisdiction over a trademark infringement claim brought against foreign websites.
The Federal Supreme Court has published a long-awaited decision on the liability of internet users whose internet access has been used for illegal file-sharing. As a result of the ruling, rights owners are increasingly likely to monitor the dissemination of their content and take measures in order to limit its uncontrolled dissemination on illegal
An artist in Germany posted images of her artwork on her website. When she realized that Google displayed thumbnail versions of her artwork whenever an Internet user searched for her name, the artist took legal action against Google, claiming that Google's behaviour violated her copyright to the images. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Google.
Google, a leading online service provider in Germany (among other countries), has been exposed to legal action on various aspects of its business regarding the terms of service relating to its use of data generated by its users. A recent decision of the Hamburg Regional Court raised fundamental questions regarding data protection and the validity of terms and conditions for online service providers.
The Federal Court of Justice has recently issued several judgments concerning particular e-commerce issues, including displaying prices online and consumer revocation rights, which have a substantial practical impact on business-to-consumer e-commerce transactions. The decisions have strengthened the position of internet retailers.
Shrink wrap (and click wrap) contracts are commonly used as an attempt to establish rules on the use of standard software which the software company can directly assert in relation to the end user. In Germany, numerous software products are distributed by means of such a licence structure. However, under German law, it is doubtful whether shrink wrap terms can be effectively agreed.
The courts have recently issued several judgments concerning particular e-commerce issues with a substantial practical impact on business-to-consumer e-commerce transactions. Moreover, a recent change in German law regarding the new commercial register will affect commercial corporate email communication.
The advent of the Internet dramatically changed the way in which business is done globally. Commercial transactions are conducted electronically rather than in person. The government has implemented the Electronic Transactions Act to regulate electronic transactions in an attempt to protect online consumers.
A recent case dealt with a dispute between the holder of a domain name and a trademark owner. The latter claimed that the domain name could confuse consumers. However, the judge ruled that the products designated by the same name were very different, therefore there could be no danger of confusion.
A new law coming into force in July 2001 will bring Greek regulation on e-commerce into line with the rest of Europe. The law will also clarify the legal criteria for accepting electronic signatures.
Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company Limited took over the role of administering .hk country code top-level domain names on June 1 2001. New, more liberal domain name registration rules were implemented at the same time.
A Hong Kong web site bulletin board operator, icered.com, was recently ordered to disclose the personal details of anonymous users who had posted libellous messages. The case shows that web site operators may not be able to deny such requests for subscribers' personal information by relying on data protection principles alone.
China’s State Secrecy Bureau has issued new rules regarding the dissemination of ‘state secrets’ over the Internet and is pressuring Hong Kong to do the same.
A new act was recently introduced to bring the Hungarian e-commerce legislation further into line with EU requirements. The act also covers data protection issues in connection with information society services, and the penalties applicable to infringements of national provisions adopted pursuant to the E-commerce Directive.
Recent legislative amendments introduce a framework for the electronic registration of limited liability companies and companies limited by shares. All such companies are also required to convert their company documentation into electronic form before December 31 2006, in order to facilitate electronic disclosure of company documents.
Hungary's E-commerce Act took effect on January 24 2002. While the act is largely in line with the E-commerce Directive, Section 18 acknowledges that compliance with certain issues was not achieved. Recent feedback from the European Commission and studies conducted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications have also revealed gaps in harmonization.
Hungary's domain name registration rules afford priority to domain names based on registered trademarks. As the rules exclude from the scope of priority requests for domain names which are based on pending trademark applications, any party may challenge such a registration successfully.
The absence of regulations on the retention of electronic documents has hindered the development of e-commerce, with companies worried that future legislation may require the use of different systems to those they employ in the meantime. However, clarification is expected in the form of a new law which will specify the requirements for proper electronic record management.
In recent months the Hungarian Parliament has amended the legislative framework to allow for the efficient use of electronic signatures and the operation of certification service providers. However, as no state financial support is available for certification service providers, few have commenced operations to date.
With the emergence of the Internet, gambling and betting have become borderless activities, as websites set up anywhere in the world can solicit and play host to such activities, even in jurisdictions where they are banned. Although there are no laws that specifically ban online gambling, the official government stance is that the existing laws governing gambling offline are also sufficient to curb gambling online.
The Information Technology Bill 2000 aims is to create a reliable regulatory framework for e-commerce by clarifying issues relating to the validity of e-contracts, e-signatures and the use of e-records in evidentiary proceedings. The bill also establishes certain cyber crimes and has extraterritorial effect.
There have been a number of interesting developments in the information tecnology and e-commerce sectors recently. Specifically, change has involved domain names, music piracy and internet trading.
Including: Current Regulation; Contractual Issues; Jurisdiction; Digital Signatures; Domain Names; Privacy; New Telecommunications Policy 1999; Information Technology Bill 1999
Implementing and enforcing a clear email and internet usage policy should protect an employer's business interests without leaving it open to subsequent allegations from employees who are disciplined as a result of misuse. A recent unfair dismissal case from the Employment Appeals highlights the importance of clarity and consistency in enforcing any policy.
If online gaming is to be offered from Ireland, the legislative framework needs to promote technological advances which will ensure top-quality products and secure facilities, as well as social responsibility and transparency. Recent parliamentary initiatives are paving the way for such a framework.
Security breaches can have severe implications in terms of a company’s liability to its customers, contacts and employees, especially when sensitive financial data is disclosed. Another concern from an Irish perspective is the risk of breach of the data protection legislation and any contract in place between the company and its internet service providers.
Regulations implementing the E-money Directive have been in force for some months now. They restrict the activities of e-money institutions to financial or non-financial services which are closely related to the administration of e-money. They also specify initial capital and ongoing funds requirements, and place e-money institutions under the supervision of the Central Bank.
Last year the Irish High Court refused jurisdiction in a defamation case between the USA Rugby Football Union and Texan web journalist Ivan Calhoun. The court considered that Ireland was not the proper place to hear the dispute. It rejected arguments that possible Irish access to an article briefly placed on a US website amounted to publication in Ireland.
The minister for enterprise, trade and employment has signed regulations which provide for the free movement of online information society services within the European Economic Area. The regulations also require the senders of unsolicited commercial emails to ensure that these are clearly identifiable as such by the recipient.
The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court has ruled that the sending of abusive or threatening messages through the Internet constitutes criminal harassment under the Telecommunications Law 1982
In a case before the district court, a journalist seeks to hold the owner and operator of 'rotter.net' liable for defamatory statements posted by users of the site's chat room.
The Jerusalem family court has permitted a woman to serve her husband with court papers by electronic mail in accordance with Section 498 of the Civil Procedure Regulations, which authorizes a court to permit substituted service of court documents by any means deemed appropriate by the court.
The Electronic Signature Law recognizes a verified electronic signature as satisfying the legal requirements of a signature. However, the law will not apply to certain legislative acts to be determined by the minister of justice.
The first draft of the Electronic Signature Law recognizes secured and verified electronic signatures as satisfying the requirement of a signature in Israeli law. Such signatures must be authenticated by an electronic certificate.
The Court of Milan's conviction of three Google executives for violating data protection law provoked strong reactions, with many commentators claiming that the legal grounds for the decision threatened the freedom of the Internet. The recent publication of the full text of the decision sheds more light on the case, correcting this view and spelling out the ramifications for the processing of sensitive personal data.
The Court of Milan has convicted three Google executives of violating Italian protection provisions in connection with a video, uploaded onto the Google Video website, of a boy with Down's syndrome being bullied by his classmates. In addition to violation of data protection provisions, the defendants were charged with defamation; their acquittal on the latter charge sheds significant light on the judge's reasoning.
In the event of a disputed registration of a '.it' domain name, a reassignment procedure is the quickest and least expensive option for trademark owners. However, this administrative procedure does not exclude possible future litigation. Interested parties should consider whether they are entitled to register or oppose registration of a '.it' domain name and how they can act in the event of a dispute.
According to recent press reports, Italy's tax police has been investigating the directors of Google's Italian subsidiary for tax evasion. Future developments could have wider implications for the e-commerce sector as Google's business and marketing model is common to many other internet companies, which may be forced to consider pre-emptive tax-structuring changes.
New legislation that allows for new online lotteries and new means of playing lottery-style games is likely to introduce online cash gaming in Italy. Other provisions implement changes in taxation and allow for measures to give operators greater choice in the betting products that they offer. However, the State Monopolies Authority retains broad control over the sector.
In a dispute centred on around 4,000 online audiovisual clips, Italian television network Mediaset is reportedly suing Google and video-sharing website YouTube for €500 million in damages before the Court of Rome. The claim raises significant questions about the liability of internet service providers, which has proved a problematic issue for the Italian courts.
The Jamaican legislature has passed the Electronic Transactions Act 2006, joining the growing number of Caribbean Community and Common Market countries that have implemented legislation enabling electronic transactions. The act is technology neutral and seeks to address growing security concerns, including the need for a reliable way to authenticate identity online.
The existing system of domain names is proving insufficient for dealing with the massive increase of internet usage. Therefore new top level domains are being established, globally; the European Union will have its own country code; and Benelux domain names are being opened up.
The number of internet users in Malaysia is expected to grow by 25% to over 3 million, accounting for more than 40% of the Malaysian population by 2004. In light of this fact, the minister of energy, communications and multimedia has outlined key challenges for the year ahead.
The government has announced that the Electronic Transactions Bill and the Electronic Government Activities Bill will be tabled before Parliament next year. Both bills are intended to encourage domestic internet users to conduct business online and allay concerns that existing laws do not address unique legal issues arising from electronic transactions.
It is apparent that a uniform legislation on privacy regulating the collection, use, possession, processing and protection of information is necessary in order to address concerns that have arisen from the emergence of the digital economy.
ePerolehan is a system that provides online links between government agencies and their suppliers. The long-term objective of ePerolehan is to replicate its implementation in other countries.
While the Internet cannot be censored as such, the individuals responsible for placing illegal content on the Internet remain liable. The Malaysian internet industry is taking no chances. A forum has been established with the aim of drafting a Content Code, which is one of the voluntary industry codes recognized by the Communications and Multimedia Act.
The Central Bank has taken an active role in helping to minimize, if not eradicate, cyberlaundering, fraud and racketeering in Malaysia by issuing a regulatory framework entitled 'Minimum Guidelines on the Provision of Internet Banking Services'.
Several laws in Mexico, including the Civil Code and the Commerce Code, have recently been modified in order to recognize and protect electronic transactions. However, these modifications do not constitute a specific e-commerce law and several omissions will have to be addressed.
A district court recently decided in AutoTrack v Gaspedaal that Autotrack had made a substantial investment and that Gaspedaal had made a substantial part of AutoTrack's database accessible to the public, resulting in damage to Autotrack.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs has taken receipt of the Notice and Takedown Code of Conduct, which is the result of a year of negotiations between market parties and government agencies. The purpose of the code is to enable the efficient removal of illegal or unlawful content from the Internet.
A graphic designer recently initiated litigation to secure unpaid fees for services provided to a real estate agency. The agency argued that the general terms and conditions had not been received before or at the time of entering into the agreement. The case highlights the importance of the proper online use of general terms and conditions.
A group of Dutch consumers sued the Dutch subsidiary of the retailer OTTO, claiming performance of contracts concluded via OTTO's website and delivery of televisions at prices of €99.99 and €99. The judge concluded that the price mentioned in the advertisement and the confirmations sent by OTTO could not reasonably be construed by consumers as a representation of the price that OTTO intended to charge.
In BREIN Foundation v UPC Nederland and BREIN Foundation v KPN Telecom the BREIN Foundation sued two Dutch internet service providers (ISPs), seeking an injunction requiring the ISPs to disclose the names, addresses and residence details of several customers. In both cases the judge found that the ISPs should disclose the personal details of certain customers to BREIN.
A recent Court of Appeal decision has set an important precedent. If the activities of a website operator with a search engine providing links to MP3 music files are more extensive than those of an internet service provider (ISP), the operator does not have the same level of protection as an ISP. Therefore, the operator may be held liable when providing links to illegal material.
With the widespread use of the Internet, online dispute resolution is emerging as a new breed of conflict resolution, whereby traditional alternative dispute resolution methods are combined with electronic networks. The Dispute Resolution Service is a good example of New Zealand’s response to a global trend.
The New Zealand government has unveiled its Digital Strategy, a collection of initiatives that are due to be rolled out over the next five years. The package, which represents an investment of NZ$400 million, includes new laws, legislative changes and some major infrastructure developments, and should allow New Zealanders to participate fully in the evolving electronic knowledge-based economy.
IT Technology Minister David Cunliffe has unveiled the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill - the forthcoming legislation to combat spam that he anticipates will be enacted by the end of the year. It is proposed the Department of Internal Affairs will enforce the legislation, given that it already has expertise in enforcing legislation relating to electronic content.
One of the stated aims of the government's Digital Strategy 2004 is to make the Internet an integral part of the provision of government information and services by 2007. In pursuit of this objective, the E-government Unit recently released a report on the security issues surrounding the provision of government services on the Internet.
The prolific use of peer-to-peer file-sharing services has seen significant action worldwide by copyright owners against internet-based infringement. The commencement of legal proceedings against KaZaA in Australia raises the question of whether a third-generation P2P network provider in New Zealand would be liable.
A recent High Court decision has determined that under New Zealand law, publication of material on the Internet, for the purposes of defamation law, occurs when it is downloaded. Publishers of information on the Internet located in New Zealand should thus be rigorous in avoiding the publication of potentially defamatory material unless they are confident it is defensible.
The number of people who find that defamatory information about themselves is available on the Internet is increasing. The government proposes that a committee should answer questions on violations on the Internet. Its primary aim will be to provide telephone and email advice to the general public to determine whether a published piece of information contravenes any relevant legislation.
Changes to Paragraph 2b of the Marketing Control Act came into force on February 1 2005. Under the new paragraph, it is forbidden in business activity, without prior consent, to direct marketing communications at natural persons with the help of electronic communication processes that allow individual communication.
The main effect of the Electronic Signature Law will be to give electronic signatures the same legal status and validity as their handwritten counterparts.
The draft e-signature law gives electronic and handwritten signatures equal legal effect. However, the law relates only to e-signatures covered by qualified certificates and has been widely criticized because the draft does not take adjustment of the provisions of civil law into consideration.
On July 1 2000 new legislation on important consumer protection issues will become effective in Poland. The distance contracts regulations included in the new law may make e-commerce more difficult, but they reflect the level of consumer protection adopted in the European Union.
All three exchanges in Poland are considering amending their strict by-laws in order to give budding internet companies access to the markets.
Law 41/2004 brings the Portuguese legal framework into line with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, which reiterates the principle of confidentiality of electronic communications. Among other things, it introduces a mechanism for cooperation between electronic communications service providers, in order to ensure the security of services and of the network.
A new decree law has amended the Portuguese legal framework governing digital signatures in an attempt to harmonize it with EU regulations. The changes will incur additional short-term costs for companies, but should ultimately boost public confidence in the use of e-commerce and electronic communications.
The unauthorized use of trademarks in domain names is a growing problem. Owners of registered trademarks sometimes discover that a domain name identical or similar to their trademark is being used by a third party. In such cases it is important for the legal owner of the trademark to obtain the cancellation of the cybersquatter's registration and re-register the domain name.
Current regulation on the use of electronic signatures by banks is quite flexible - a wide variety of signatures are acceptable and there is no direct state involvement. However, a draft law that was issued in January only recognizes digital signatures that can be verified by cryptography and introduces a state-licensed certification centre. Banks will have to keep watch.
Since Russia lacks a clear legislative framework with regard to the registration of internet domain names, several cases have been heard concerning the infringement of trademarks and corporate names by domain names. However, the case law remains inconsistent.
The attention of regulatory bodies in Singapore has been drawn to the increasing number of financial companies launching online services. Recent announcements set out the minimum system standards required and lay the groundwork for a new licensing regime.
The South African Revenue Service has introduced an electronic filing system, allowing taxpayers to complete their tax returns over the Web. Legislation prescribes that when an electronic return is received on the filing website, the electronic signature of the taxpayer or tax practitioner must be attached.
An amendment to the Internet Address Resource Act which will provide protection for domain names in Korea was recently announced. Petitioners filing actions under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy may now also raise a claim under the Internet Address Resource Act since its scope has been extended to cover not only country-code top-level domain names, but also generic top-level domain names.
Daum Communication Corp, a Korean internet portal company that provides an instant messaging service, has filed a suit against Microsoft and its Korean subsidiary alleging that the inclusion of Microsoft's instant messaging program in its Windows XP operating system amounts to an illegal abuse of its market power.
Thousands of online users recently filed an action seeking damages against internet service providers and Microsoft Corporation in connection with an internet disruption which occurred in Korea in early 2003. Cable and wireless internet connection was interrupted nationwide, causing great inconvenience and financial losses.
The Computer Program Protection Act has been amended in order to encourage the online dissemination of software. The amendments allow internet service providers to limit their liability in the case of any copyright infringement that takes place through their information networks.
The Prosecutor’s Office has indicted the operators of Soribada (Korean for ‘sea of sound’) on the basis of facilitating copyright law infringement. The indictment effectively halted the practice of exchanging popular music files without permission from the copyright holder, and has implications for both the music industry and web users.
New regulations which recently took effect provide that commercial emails (ie, spam) must be entitled "Advertisement" where appropriate. Material that is unsuitable for minors must also be suitably labelled. Fail to label emails accordingly may incur a fine of up to W5 million.
The Supreme Court recently issued two judgments on the interpretation of the 'actual knowledge' concept set out in Article 16 of the Information Society Services and Electronic Commerce Law in order to provide exemptions to service providers that carry out data hosting services.
The Law on Information Society Services and E-commerce implements EU law. It aims to promote the development of the information society in Spain through the creation of a safe framework for electronic relations. The government hopes this will spark a technological revolution in Spain and place it on an equal footing with its European neighbours.
A proposal for a Digital Signature Law aims to increase consumer confidence in transacting over the Internet. The digital signatures proposed will be facilitated by certification service providers, which will issue electronic certificates certifying the identity of the digital signature. Further, certain validated certificates will have the same effect as written signatures.
A new registration scheme for the '.es' country code top-level domain was recently enacted which aims to open up the existing procedure. The new regime creates a number of third-level domains, introduces a tender process for the allocation of domain names of significant market value and allows individual to register their names in the second-level domain.
A new regulation on domain name registration aims to ensure that the assignment system can adapt to the specific needs of '.es' domain names, so as to facilitate the growth of e-commerce in Spain. It seeks to establish an adequate balance between reliability and flexibility, and to this extent is based on common registration practice.
The European Commission recently rated the Spanish government as one of the most technologically advanced in Europe, although a recent conference has highlighted weaknesses in key areas of its e-government development. Spain was the one of first countries to recognize electronic signatures, and also offers advanced internet tax initiatives.
The Nordic consumer ombudsmen have agreed on a position statement regarding e-commerce and marketing in the Nordic market via the Internet. The statement establishes standards of conduct to be observed by businesses in online consumer transactions. It provides rules on marketing methods, information obligations, electronic contracts and internet payments, among other things.
Sweden and other EU member states have recently proposed amendments to the EU Directive on Data Protection. Sweden found the implementation of the directive difficult, due to the restrictions placed on the processing of everyday data. The argument behind the proposal is that data protection will be improved if unnecessary and costly requirements are removed.
Recent and pending court cases highlight the interplay between internet publishing and freedom of expression. Individuals can now publish material on the Internet which is not subject to the editorial restraints that govern media publication, and this has created a greater focus on privacy principles.
Three cases regarding the copyright protection of race programmes and fixture lists under the EU Database Directive have been referred to the European Court of Justice for preliminary rulings. They raise interesting questions on the directive’s application, and their outcomes will be of particular importance to the media sector.
The E-commerce Law, which is a result of the implementation of the EU E-commerce Directive, is due to come into force later this year. This update outlines the effects that the law will have on e-commerce in Sweden.
The Federal Council has rejected plans to amend the Code of Obligations and introduce specific e-commerce provisions. The rejected proposals included a right to withdraw within seven days of entering into contracts online, aggravated provisions regarding warranty and further provisions to enhance consumer protection.
The new Code on Electronic Signatures, which will become effective on January 1 2005, is open for public consultation. The new rules are expected to provide a framework which will increase the use of electronic signatures and ensure the installation of practical electronic certification systems.
The Swiss Academic and Research Network, Switzerland's registrar of internet country-code domain names, has issued new procedural rules for dispute resolution proceedings for '.ch' and '.li' domain names. On the basis of these rules, bad-faith domain name applications and registrations may be challenged through fair, fast and inexpensive proceedings.
Companies wishing to enhance productivity and efficiency often utilize business-to-business (B2B) websites, which serve as a platform for information exchange. However, this may violate the Swiss Cartels Act if the companies compete with each other in a specific market. B2B website providers should be aware that in certain cases they can be penalized as well as the competing companies.
The Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently approved a public key infrastructure solution which satisfies the formal documentation requirements of Swiss value added tax (VAT) law. Electronic invoices may now be used as evidence for the deduction of input tax if their transmission and recording is secured by means of approved electronic signatures.
The question of whether the creation of hyperlinks to hate sites constitutes a crime depends on the context in which the links were created. A professor was recently acquitted of criminal charges because, while his home page included links to sites from which racist websites could be accessed, it was clear that the professor did not endorse the prohibited content.
The Taiwan government is considering enacting legislation in response to the problems associated with spam. The Legislative Yuan has scheduled a series of public hearings on the subject and the Executive Yuan's Council of Economic Planning and Development has commissioned a report on international responses to spam, with a focus on legislation. This update summarizes the issues.
Taiwan's government has passed amendments to the Criminal Code in response to the problems of computer hackers, viruses and spam. The amendments are modest in that the fines are far less than the amount of potential damages, and the spam provision barely qualifies as a spam law as it does not prohibit false headers, subject lines or routing information, nor require an opt-out provision.
If a spam email containing defamatory information is forwarded, after just one day the company targeted by that email could face significant damage to its reputation among customers, thus losing market share. The introduction of Law 5651 has made it possible to bring criminal prosecutions against those who create and forward spam emails, as well as filing compensation claims against them.
It is widely accepted that in cases of breach or suspected breach of criminal law provisions on the regulation of the Internet, blocking internet access is a necessity. Usually, instead of isolating the infringing webpage from the rest of the website, practitioners prefer to ban access to the whole website. However, in a recent case a court ordered that only the relevant pages of the website be blocked.
Under the Criminal Code, the facilitation of gambling is a crime and supplying equipment for the purposes of gambling is punishable by imprisonment. However, since there is no direct provision in the code for online gambling, this is more difficult for the authorities to police. In particular, gambling websites which are hosted by foreign service providers are considered to be outside the Turkish jurisdiction.
Online journalism is a new concept in Turkey. Previously, publications on the Internet were simply online versions of news stories already covered in the relevant newspaper or on the relevant television channel. Under Turkish law, there is no regulation directly providing legal grounds for online newspapers.
When Law 5651 on the Regulation of Online Publications and the Combat of Crimes Committed by Online Publications was published it was presented as the best solution to combat crimes committed via the Internet. However, according to many practitioners, the regulation does not satisfy public demand. There is concern that the regulation may be used as a tool to censor the Internet.
The Ukrainian president has signed into force two laws regulating electronic documents and digital signatures. The creation of an effective legal framework for e-commerce development is set to continue, as a draft Law on E-commerce has also been submitted to Parliament for consideration.
Legislative amendments provide that the utilization of trademarks and industrial designs on the Internet will be subject to protection under applicable Ukrainian law. This confirms the position which the courts have adopted on the issue.
A new law on electronic documents will facilitate the circulation of documents between companies, which in turn should stimulate commercial activity. However, more legislation is needed in this area, particularly with regard to digital signatures, before it can become effective.
Two new acts that are currently being drafted will set out a legal framework for electronic documents and electronic signatures. The new legislation could mean a significant boost to e-commerce in Ukraine.
In line with the decision of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers at the end of 2009 to allow domain names to be registered in Arabic, Chinese and other non-Latin scripts (internationalized domain names (IDNs)), 16 applications have been filed for country-level IDNs. Accordingly, the launch of Arabic-language IDNs, including '.امارات' ('.emarat'), appears imminent.
August 2009 marked one year since the '.ae' Domain Administration (.aeDA) registry system went live. This update provides some background to the .aeDA, along with information relating to '.ae' domain name eligibility. It also looks at the '.ae' dispute resolution policy and briefly contrasts this with domain name dispute procedures in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
In today's market contract negotiations are often conducted by electronic means (eg, by email) and the negotiations continue until the differences are narrowed down to an electronic contract. The relevant question is whether such an electronic contract is valid under the current UAE law.
In February 2006 the UAE government issued the federal Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law. Now, in an attempt to bring existing laws into line with that law, amendments have been made to the Law of Evidence in Civil and Commercial Transactions, giving electronic documents and signatures the same weight as the paper equivalents.
The year 2006 witnessed major legislative developments initiated by new ministers keen to protect the ever-growing e-commerce sector by introducing two new laws regulating electronic transactions and cybercrime. The new Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law regulates electronic records, documents and signatures used for electronic transactions and e-commerce.
The UAE government has committed itself to facilitating e-commerce at both local and federal level. As part of the federal government's efforts to regulate electronic transactions and boost users' confidence, in February 2006 the Federal Law Concerning Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law was issued.
The UK Gambling Commission has published the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards that licensed remote gambling operators and gambling software operators will need to meet under the Gambling Act 2005, which came into force on September 1 2007. The technical standards will be enforced by the commission on the basis that compliance will be a condition of a remote gambling operating licence.
UK consumers have once again been warned to steer clear of websites offering too-good-to-be-true prize draws and get-rich-quick schemes. The Office of Fair Trading has discovered that 176 sites worldwide are in breach of UK consumer protection laws, and has offered a four-point guide to keeping vigilant and avoiding such internet scams.
The British Phonographic Industry has issued its most serious warning yet to the United Kingdom's illegal music downloaders. An instant messaging campaign on the Internet will be used to warn users to disable their file-sharing software or face court action.
Boxing promoter Don King has won the right to sue Lennox Lewis, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, and his US lawyer in England for defamation in respect of allegations made on US websites. The case will demonstrate the reach of English defamation law over internet publications.
The Department of Trade and Industry has launched a consultation on the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. The proposals make it easier for suppliers to comply with the regulations, and easier for consumers to understand and exercise their rights under them. The deadline for responses is April 23 2004.
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a number of recent complaints regarding unsolicited marketing sent by email. While the ASA lacks the power of the information commissioner, the official data protection regulator, it is nonetheless taking a tough approach in respect of breaches of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.
In the first quarter of 2006 unsolicited commercial email (spam) accounted for approximately 80% of all email traffic on the Internet. It seems that the Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing Act 2003 has failed to slow down spam as intended.
Senator John McCain has introduced federal legislation that would require commercial websites and personal blogs to report illegal images or videos posted by their users, or face fines of up to $300,000. However, US free speech advocacy groups have expressed concern that the bill would curb legitimate communication on the Internet.
A US district court has rejected KinderStart.com's claim that Google violated the free speech rights of various websites, engaged in anti-competitive behaviour and misled the public by projecting itself as an objective source of internet content, while it was actually penalizing certain websites for unexplained reasons related to the sites’ efforts to improve their Google ranking.
In a ruling that could have a significant impact on the rights of online publishers and bloggers, a California court of appeal has held that the identities of anonymous employees of Apple Computer, Inc who leaked trade secrets of Apple to online news magazines (also known as 'e-zines') were protected from discovery.
The executive and legislative arms of the federal government are actively attempting to stamp out offshore online gambling sites. Most recently, an online sports betting company headquartered in Costa Rica stopped taking US bets after the US Department of Justice charged it with operating an illegal gambling operation. A bill aimed at eliminating many forms of online gambling has also been tabled.
The search engine Google continues to make legal news in the US federal courts. In the most recent decision of note, a court ruled that Google need only disclose something over 50,000 random uniform resource locators (URLs) to the government, which initially had sought to compel Google to turn over billions of URLs and two months' worth of search queries.
A new type of document will now be recognized as being valid and binding: a data message with an electronic signature, which must be certified with an electronic certificate issued by an accredited certification service provider.
The Venezuelan Chamber of Electronic Commerce has drafted a law to give digital signatures in online contracts the same legal effect as handwritten signatures. The law is part of a general trend towards prioritization of the Internet and e-commerce.
A new joint system for the protection of industrial property has been agreed by member countries of the Andean Community Commission, in order to guard against unauthorized use and registration of certain distinctive signs.
A new practice adopted by NIC.VE - the entity responsible for domain name registrations - ensures that domain names are now registered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Decree 825 states that access to, and use of, the Internet is to be a priority for the cultural, economic and social development of Venezuela. All ministries are to undertake the execution of this policy, under the direction of the Ministries of Education, Infrastructure and Science & Technology.