The new Electronic Transaction Bill is too late, according to an Auckland lawyer.
The bill, says Hesketh Henry's Chris Patterson, is "a bit of window dressing for the bigger issues. As far as legislation to deal with crime, and to assist e-commerce to move forward, the big thing is credit card fraud. And until that is addressed, people are going to hold back."
And while the bill does, for the first time, make the electronic equivalent of breaking and entering, burglary and wilful damage illegal, there are thus far no provisions to give police greater resources to combat electronic crime.
"They can't afford to prosecute people at the moment anyway. It's all a bit ridiculous when they have one individual to service the entire upper half of the North Island."
The bill was put together by officials for the outgoing National-led government last year. Papers obtained under the Official Information Act reveal that ministers were then advised that no extra resources would be necessary to fight electronic crime.
That low-budget approach, plus the new government's emphasis on the knowledge economy, mean the new bill is unlikely to solve many problems, says Patterson.
"There has to be some sort of system put in place whereby people in business on the Net can feel secure with the [changes] taking place," he says.
"How the government goes about that I don't know, but I do know government has to direct more resources into cracking down on credit card fraud, and [it needs] specific legislation to bring that into focus."