Austrian eCommerce Act entered into force on 1 January 2002

Subject: Austrian eCommerce Act entered into force on 1 January 2002
From: Morlon Carmen (
Date: pe 22 helmi  2002 - 11:46:53 EET

To ECUP-list members,
FYI, from the Legal InfoSoc News Kiosk (The L.i.n.k.).

The Austrian eCommerce Act, which is designed to implement the EU
eCommerce Directive 2000/31/EC, entered into force on 1 January 2002. It
regulates certain aspects of information society services and implements
the "home-country principle" provided for by Art 3 of the eCommerce
Directive as well as exceptions thereto.
One of these exceptions is the regulation of spamming, i.e. the
unsolicited transmission of e-mail. Consequently, even though a provider
may carry on his online-business throughout the European Union by virtue
of the "single passport" (granted by its home country), the provider
still has to comply with national copyright laws and the spamming
regulations of each jurisdiction to which the provider's services are
The Directive leaves it to the Member States to decide whether to
introduce an "opt-in" or "opt-out" system. The Austrian e-Commerce Act
implements the first alternative. According to the "opt-in" system,
unsolicited e-mails may only be sent to addressees who expressly agree
to such a service in advance.
Furthermore, the Act contains provisions governing the online conclusion
of contracts and makes it obligatory for the online provider to provide
the customer with certain information (e.g. order confirmation, etc.) in
the context of the conclusion of such contracts. In line with general
principles of Austrian civil law, the Act provides that an e-mail is
deemed to have been delivered as soon as the addressee can access it "in
normal circumstances", i.e. if an e-mail is sent at night or on a
holiday, it is deemed to have been delivered on the morning of the next
business day.
This provision protects the recipient from having to deal with e-mails
that have not yet been "seen" and goes further than the Directive, which
does not refer to the circumstances in which an e-mail is accessed in
legal terms.
The e-Commerce Act also addresses the liability of service providers.
Like its European model, the eCommerce Directive, the Act exempts
web-hosting providers from liability for illegal content transmitted
over their servers, if they are ignorant of the illegal nature of the
content and immediately block access to such content should they become
aware thereof. However, the Austrian Act goes further and - unlike the
Directive -also excludes the liability of providers of search engines, a
provision which caused some controversy in the legal discussion on the
For the wording of the eCommerce Act refer to:


Carmen Morlon
EU Information Officer
PO BOX 43300
NL-2504 AH The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 70 309 06 08
Fax: +31 70 309 07 08
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