27 Jan 2019

Government doesn't understand e-commerce rules - Kelsey

2:56 pm on 27 January 2019

A leading academic is demanding more information from the government on its position on protecting electronic commerce and digital privacy.

Jane Kelsey

Jane Kelsey believes an in-depth discussion is required on the approach to setting international e-commerce rules. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

New Zealand is one of a group of 70 countries in a breakaway group at the World Trade Organisation to launch negotiations on e-commerce rules.

Jane Kelsey from Auckland University said the big hi-tech companies such as Amazon and Google wanted no regulations and this was borne out in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the CPTPP.

She said it was clear governments did not understand what the rules meant. "And the New Zealand government certainly doesn't," Professor Kelsey said.

"My Official Information Act requests although heavily redacted have shown there are questions they are not even looking at. I currently have an appeal before the Ombudsman to require the government to release additional information on the advice they have received so we can engage in a really in-depth discussion."

Professor Kelsey said the last thing countries needed was rules that prevented regulating the activities of big-tech companies.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said it was hoped negotiations would create a set of rules that would govern online trading and data flows between borders.

He said it was important robust personal privacy and consumer protections were put in place, while also making it easier for businesses and consumers to trade online.

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