The Federal Government and some of Australia's large law firms have attempted to clear the fog hanging over Internet regulations with the launch of a free Web site aimed at simplifying Internet, online and e-commerce related law.
Justice Deirdre O'Connor, president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and chair of the CLC, said the Oz NetLaw site (www.oznetlaw.net.au) is "designed to help consumers, small businesses and community organisations solve legal problems associated with online services".
Internet law is mostly covered by the Electronic Transactions Act 1999, the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000, the Telecommunications Act 1997 and the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999.
"This is a new field of legal practice that embraces many existing areas of law, such as defamation, copyright and consumer protection. But it has also spawned new legal issues such as online gambling, secure electronic transactions and the status of online contracts," O'Connor said.
In addition to the online service, Oz NetLaw provides a telephone advice service in an effort to build small business operators' confidence in exploring the opportunities that online services offer.
John Corker, manager of Oz NetLaw, says there is a need for straightforward advice on how to safeguard your interests when using the Internet or providing online services, including topics such as creating a Web site, "clickwrap" contracts, hacking, spamming and employee e-mails.
The site was developed by the Communications Law Centre, a non-profit research, policy and educational organisation specialising in media and communications law across all mediums, and was funded by a one-off, $73million grant from the Attorney General's Department.