As Australia is witnessing a boom in the ecommerce industry, whether you are just starting the business with a new brand, or whether you’ve been a retailer but are now taking your business online; you need be aware of the legal issues that surround ecommerce. There is no doubt that ecommerce has an exciting rate of success and growth, and it offers a great future for your business. However, playing by the rules will just make things safer.
While there are many advantages of ecommerce, the complex legal issues can make your ride to success a bumpy one and have you calling in commercial lawyers to help you. Different countries have different rules; which is why, as a business in Australia; it is important for you to know what to expect and what applies. Keep in mind that the law is fluid, which means that it is subject to change with time. Therefore, you must remain up-to-date all the time so that you can continue to reap the fruits of success.
To know if you can conduct electronic business in different parts of Australia, check the legislation regarding electronic transactions in the following territories:
- Australian Capital Territory
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Northern Territory
- New South Wales
First off, prepare to take the necessary steps to ensure that everything you do meets the officially permitted requirements for establishing and running online businesses in Australia. If necessary, talk to good lawyers for professional legal advice and prepare accordingly. Here are some simple details to point you in the right direction:
The Australian government is trying to make using electronic communications for personal transactions and online businesses easier and more trustworthy to use. This is why; it has committed to providing government owned online services as much as possible. Moreover, the 1999 Act (The Electronic Transaction Act) specifies that a transaction conducted online through electronic communication will be valid as long as it complies with the Commonwealth Law.
The commonwealth law requires the following for any business transaction, whether online or offline:
- Information should be available in writing
- There should be handwritten signatures
- Document should be in material form
- Records or information should be retained
Therefore, you must make sure that your online business complies with these requirements for the electronic transactions to be legally acceptable in Australia. Note that the Commonwealth Law applies, unless the transaction gets exemption based on the Electronic Transaction Regulation 2000. Even then, you will need paper-based documentation and information. You should consult the Schedule 1 of the Regulations for more details.
Concerning electronic signatures, it is acceptable for electronic transactions. However, identifying the person is important for the approval of the communicated information. The Electronic Transaction Act doesn’t limit you to use a particular electronic signature technology, so that there is flexibility and ease for businesses and people using ecommerce. However, the method used for the signature must be reliable and appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
Note: Do not confuse electronic signatures with digital signatures. A digital signature means PKI (Public Key Infrastructure). It is a cryptographic technique used for encrypting a user’s private information.
You will also need insight about the laws related to fair online business practices, advertising and marketing, engaging minors, and security and authentication.