We co-ordinate the development of electronic commerce policy across government to ensure the regulations facilitate use of electronic commerce and don't create barriers and cost to business.

E-commerce means online trading, that is, buying and selling goods and services over electronic networks. Although e-commerce refers to all electronic transactions over any electronic network, today we tend to think of it as transactions carried out on the internet.

The Electronic Transactions Act 2002 is the governing legislation. Its purpose is to:

  • Facilitate the use of electronic technology by reducing uncertainty regarding the legal effect of information in electronic form or communicated electronically.
  • Provide that certain paper-based legal requirements may be met with electronic technology that is functionally equivalent to legal requirements.

Note that the new Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 will repeal the Electronic Transactions Act 2002. The new Act incorporates the provisions which were in the Electronic Transactions Act, and only makes minor amendments. The new Act is scheduled to come into effect in September 2017.


Spam is the generic term for unrequested electronic commercial email and short message service (SMS) text messages.

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 (spam legislation) prohibits unsolicited commercial electronic messages with a New Zealand link from being sent to promote good e-marketing practice and prevent New Zealand from becoming a spam haven.

The spam legislation establishes a civil penalty regime for non-compliance and is enforced by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Read more about spam and how to report it on the Department of Internal Affairs website.