The government has approved the release of a Ministry of Economic Development discussion document on the proposed Electronic Transactions Bill.
The proposed measure, which stalled under the last government, is aimed at removing legislative barriers and helping to clarify the legality of electronic transactions.
Acting Information Technology Minister Trevor Mallard says it is necessary to give confidence to businesses and government bodies wanting to do work electronically.
"The discussion document is the first part of the process. It is being released to government departments and key organisations such as the law society for early consultation – wider consultation will take place later during the select committee process," he said.
"It recommends the Bill implement most of the recommendations made by the Law Commission in its report last year and that it follow the Australian Electronic Transactions Act closely.
Mallard says there are two key elements to the proposed legislation- it would remove legal barriers preventing the use of electronic technology for communications and record keeping; and it would remove some of the uncertainty about the legal status of electronic communications and related uses of modern technology.
"Both parties involved in any communication would have to agree to dealings taking place electronically and some dealings or record keeping obligations such as wills, affidavits and statutory declarations would be excluded from the scope of the Bill.
"There is a sense of urgency about having this legislation in place – it is necessary if we are to enable New Zealand as a place for e-commerce to succeed, for that reason for that reason the Government's goal is to pass the Bill this year," says Mallard.
The discussion document was due to be published on the MED Website