April 17 2003
The Electronic Transactions Act was passed into law on October 17 2002. Based on the 1996 United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Commerce, it is intended to facilitate the use of electronic technology and reduce uncertainty in the area of e-commerce. Regulations are required before the act enters into force, the completion of which is anticipated by the middle of the year.
The act allows the following statutory requirements to be met using electronic means:
Some statutory requirements and types of transactions are excluded where it is considered that the use of electronic technology is inappropriate, for example in relation to negotiable instruments, affidavits and wills. However, no one is required to use, provide or accept information in an electronic form without his or her consent.
The act also confirms the legal validity of electronic transactions involving electronic communications, and provides default rules for the time and place of dispatch and receipt of such communications based on the UNICITRAL Model Law.
The act is a significant step towards ensuring that e-commerce can be conducted with a degree of certainty and will encourage the use of electronic technology in place of traditional paper-based methods.
The Ministry of Economic Development has issued a position paper on digital technology and copyright. The paper assesses the applicability, adequacy and operation of the Copyright Act 1994 in the context of the development and adoption of digital technologies, including the Internet. The paper proposes to broaden the existing technology-specific communication right. It also addresses issues relating to:
Submissions on the paper were due in February this year and are now being considered in the development of policy recommendations to the government.
The report of the government select committee reviewing the Films, Videos and Publications Act 1993 was released in March this year. Among other things, the report considers the impact of new technologies on censorship laws, and the ability of the act to deal with the classification and censorship of content provided on the Internet. The report suggests involving ISPs in the policing of objectionable content originating from outside New Zealand. Developing a voluntary code of practice and licensing or registration regime in consultation with ISPs has been recommended as a first step, with the possibility of legislation placing obligations on ISPs as an alternative.
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