Lecture 1. Introduction to Electronic Transactions Law




Electronic transactions law is known by several different terms including Cyber law, IT law or Digital Media Law. Its essence is that it is a body of law that regulates commercial and non-commercial transactions concluded wholly or partially through electronic communications, including e-government services.

There is no definition in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act No. 25 of 2002 (ECTA) and the definition stated above is a working definition adopted for purposes of this module. This definition refers to electronic communications which are defined by section 1 of ECTA as “communication by means of data messages” which are defined as “data generated, sent, received or stored by electronic means and includes (a) voice, where the voice is used in an automated transaction; and (b) a stored record”. This broad definition encompasses information sent by a multiplicity of means including the internet (via computers, TVs and mobile phones) using online ‘tools’ such as websites, email, VOIP, social networks and other communication devices such as the telephone (both land and mobile).

This module is primarily concerned with e-commerce which comprises of the following forms:

– Business to business (B2B ecommerce)

– Business to consumer (B2C ecommerce)

– Consumer to consumer (C2C)

– Employer to employee (workplace communications)

– Government to business (e-procurement)

Various branches of law are relevant to electronic transactions including contract law, law of privacy, law of delict, tax law, intellectual property law, criminal law, consumer law, private international law and administrative. This module canvasses some of these branches of law. Where appropriate, it also discusses relevant national policies.

Recommended Reading

C Cupido ‘Electronic communications regulations’ Cyberlaw@SA III pp 25 – 38

Department of Communications A Green Paper on Electronic Commerce for South Africa, 2000 available at (accessed 4 August 2012)

Frank H. Easterbrook ‘Cyberspace and the Law of the Horse’ (1996) University of Chicago Legal Forum 207

Steve Esselaar, Alison Gillwald, Mpho Moyo and Kammy Naidoo ‘South African ICT

Sector Performance Review 2009/2010’ Towards Evidence-based ICT Policy and RegulationVolume Two, Policy Paper 6, 2010

Lawrence Lessig ‘The Law of the Horse: What Cyberlaw Might Teach’ (1999) 113 Harvard Law Review 501

S Papadopoulos ‘An introduction to cyberlaw’ Cyberlaw@SA III pp 1 – 8

SabinetLaw ‘A guide to the law-making process in Parliament’ available at (accessed 4 August 2012)

SabinetLaw ‘Cabinet has approved a national cyber security policy framework’ available at (accessed 4 August 2012)

Integrated ICT Policy Documents 2012 - 2015

D Taylor ‘Legal informatics’ Cyberlaw@SA III pp 9 – 24