33 Victoria U. Wellington L. Rev. 433 (2002)
The Internet and the Law

handle is hein.journals/vuwlr33 and id is 867 raw text is: THE INTERNET AND THE LAW
Benedict Dugan** and Bob Dugan*
I     INTRODUCTION
The Internet and related technologies are impacting on the law like no other
phenomenon in our lifetime. The impact is felt from the basic institutions of contract and
tort to the remote corners of competition law and securities law. The legislative system is
not coping with the challenge, as demonstrated by the paralysis over the Electronic
Transactions Bill and the Crimes Amendment Bill (No 6). This article opens with some
background material about the Internet, proceeds to consider its impact on eight areas of
the law and concludes with some observations about the feasibility and direction of
regulation.
A History
The Internet traces its history to the ARPAnet, a United States Department of Defence
project in the late 1960's to establish a communication system capable of withstanding
catastrophic attack. The Internet was confined to military and university purposes until
1987 when it was made available for commercial use.1 Internet use exploded in the early
1990s after invention of the browser/server combination that we associate with the
Worldwide Web. The number of connected persons has risen from 242 million in the year
2000 to over 500 million in 2002. The phenomenon known as electronic commerce has
grown from $0 in 1990 to $500 billion in the year 2000 and is predicted to top one trillion
dollars by the end of this year.2
Computer Science Department, University of Washington, Seattle.
Reader in Law, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Editor's Note: This paper was prepared before the passage of the Electronic Transactions Bill as
the Electronic Transactions Act 2002. The points that the authors make, they believe, about the
Bill remain true of the Act.
1   <http://www.netvalley.com/archives/mirrors/dave/marsh-timline-l.htm>.
2   <http://www.epaynews.com/statistics> and <http://www.intemettrafficreporter.com>.

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