The law's ability to deal with cross-border Internet crime is being hampered by a lack of international rules and standards, according to a report released today.
Legal frameworks for data protection, cyber-security and the freedom of speech were among the areas of Internet and e-commerce law having the most significant impact on the growth of online businesses, it found.
The global survey was carried out by the International Bar Association (IBA), and sponsored by information services provider LexisNexis.
Adrian Lawrence -- author of LexisNexis' The Law of Ecommerce -- said that organisations should be aware of the legal implications of business conducted online. “Australian businesses engaged in e-commerce are exposed to greater vulnerability as they enter into contracts with people from other countries, without necessarily being aware of the legal implications,” he said.
The survey found that in Australia those surveyed felt that the legal framework for data protection had the greatest impact on the growth of online business.
Two-thirds of those surveyed in this country thought that the Internet “had at least somewhat of an effect on international law”, which they attributed to changes caused by the Internet in terms of communication.
Lawrence said that one of the messages that came out of the survey was that the Internet was going to have an increasing impact on all elements of business. He added that technology was also influencing the law, as well as questioning it. “Enough to force courts and to force lawmakers to reconsider their position in certain areas, and in fact change the law.”
Lawrence also believed that over time we were going to see more standardisation of legislation across borders, similar to the treaties which took place about copyright law in the mid-1990s. “In respect to the Internet… there is always this international question which is overlaid over any legal question, [such as with] spam legislation,” he said.