Draft Electronic Transactions Bill released

The Federal government's first attempt at drafting legislation to verify electronic transactions is narrow and light-handed, but does remove a lot of uncertainity surrounding electronic commerce, a source told Computerworld.

Referring to the draft Electronic Transactions Bill, which was released for public comment yesterday, Robert Neely, technology and trades practices partner from Minter Ellison, said the bill is consistent with the government's policy of being "light-handed" and doesn't really interfere with commercial and contractual relationships between people.

"It is an enabling type legislation. So it really says if you do things a certain way now they won't be any less valid than they were doing it an old way," Neely said.

According to Neely, once in place, the legislation should assist businesses engaging in electronic commerce and encourage more electronic-based transactions.

"I don't think this is the sort of thing that is going to be a determining factor, but it will help if you have the right regulatory environment," he said.

According to officials, the legislation will enable electronic transactions and electronic communications to be legally recognised, just as paper-based communications are. It also validates digital signatures without establishing particular technologies.

The exposure draft of the Electronic Transactions Bill is available at www.law.gov.au/ecommerce and the Federal Attorney General's Department will receive comments until February 26.

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