By M Ali Nasir
The exponential growth of the Internet and online activity raise a number of new regulatory issues and legal questions. The power of the Web to reach the world carries with it a variety of legal issues, often related to intellectual property concerns, copyright, trademark, privacy, etc., particularly in the context of doing business on the Internet. Authorities seeking to apply their laws in traditional ways or to expand legal control over international links face many challenges due to the global nature of the Internet. This paper provides an overview of some of the legal issues and related problems in e-commerce. Introduction
Approximately 100 countries now enjoy Internet access, and a recent survey reported that there are approximately 20 million Internet hosts worldwide. The number of Internet users is currently estimated to be in the region of 100 million people . The exponential growth of the Internet and online activity raise a number of new regulatory issues and legal questions. How does copyright apply to digital content? How can national laws apply to activities in cyberspace? Can privacy and data protection exist on the Web? Can electronic commerce really be secure? Should governments tax cyber trade? Can cyberspace be regulated by one, or by many authorities? In seeking to apply the law to the Internet, problems arise owing to the fact that most laws largely apply to the pre-cyberspace world. In the modern era of electronic technology, many people want to get their work done quickly with little effort. At times, people forget or do not consider the legal and ethical values of their procedures. In traditional commerce, it's not easy to start a business. You must implement strategies that follow rules and regulations enforced by government. Electronic commerce makes it possible to do almost any kind of business in a very simple way. What makes it simple? The reason is that existing legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms are not strong. E-commerce presents a world of opportunity for doing businesses, reaching global markets and purchasing without leaving the home or office. E-commerce can provide opportunities to improve business processes, just as phones, faxes and mobile communications have in the past. However, just as any new business tool has associated issues and risks so does e-commerce. It's important to understand the legal issues and potential risks to ensure a safe, secure environment for trading with customers and other businesses. The issue of law on the Internet is a complex one. Between the two all-or-nothing extremes lies a broad spectrum of possibilities . Many people revel in the freedom to express themselves and the freedom from prohibitions such as zoning restrictions that the Internet apparently affords. With no law at all, however, the Internet would be no place to conduct business or pleasure. Laws give people certainties about their rights and responsibilities: they make life more predictable. "Without predictability, business will not be able to act efficiently, or price services effectively," said Thomas Vartanian, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer . Electronic Transaction
Some federal, state and territory governments encourage the adoption of electronic commerce by enacting and enabling legalisation. In Australia many bills and acts have been passed to resolve legal issues and make electronic transaction more authenticated, such as the Electronic Transaction Act (ETA). ETA enables contractual dealings, such as offers, acceptances and invitations, to be conducted electronically, and also allows people to use an electronic signature to satisfy any legal requirement. Even the electronic transfer of land is covered, "Importantly, the Act is similar in all material respects to those operating both in other States and at the Federal level, so people can be confident that electronic transactions carry the same legal weight...