UPDATE: Senate passes electronic transactions bill

Australian businesses will not benefit from the introduction of e-commerce legislation until state and territory governments enact similar laws.

Under the Electronic Transactions Bill, passed in the Senate late Thursday, electronic communication between Commonwealth departments and agencies and Australians is now as legally binding as paper-based transactions.

However, transactions involving businesses are not recognised under the law.

The legislation also provides certain minimum requirements in order for electronic transactions to the traditional legal requirements of writing, signature, production of original documents and retention of electronic records, officials said.

Darryl Williams, federal attorney general urged state and territory governments to enact similar legislation to "ensure national uniformity in regulating electronic commerce".

According to a spokesperson for the NSW minister of IT, some work has been done on bringing in complementary legislation in NSW, but it is not likely any laws will be passed until next year.

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