The long-delayed Electronic Transactions Bill was passed into law on Thursday.
The bill regularises the status of electronic transactions, giving them broadly the same status in law as transactions concluded on pieces of paper. It makes tacit provision for recognition of electronic signatures, not defining what a signature is, but leaving its recognition to common law.
The legislation has the potential to facilitate the growth of e-business, remove legislative barriers to online trade and reduce compliance and transaction costs. It would make this country’s laws more compatible with those of its trading partners, said Russell McVeagh partner Mike Cronin at an e-business law seminar earlier this year.
The ruling Labour party and other parties, notably the Greens, have been accused by IT industry spokespeople of giving the bill insufficient attention and priority. Green co-leader Rod Donald at the time rebutted the accusation, saying there was a lot of other important legislation to be passed.
IT bodies such as ITANZ and InternetNZ have emphasised that this bill and the Crimes Amendment No 6 Bill, criminalising “hacking”, are important for the progress of e-business.
The Crimes Amendment Bill is sitting at number 37 on the order paper, with Parliament still to finish consideration of the report back from select committee.