Senate passes Y2K Good Samaritan Bill

Australian companies will now have some legal protection in making Y2K-readiness statements following the passing of Y2K disclosure legislation in the Senate yesterday.

The Year 2000 Information Disclosure Bill 1999 will offer limited liability protection to businesses disclosing the state of their Y2K-compliancy.

The legislation aims to overcome the fear that many businesses hold in making such information available - the possibility that it could become the basis for subsequent legal action. Under the Bill, "a properly authorised disclosure statement will not be able to be used as evidence in any subsequent action", according to a statement released by Senator Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, and Senator Ian Campbell, parliamentary secretary to Alston.

Modelled on the US Year 2000 Information Readiness Disclosure Act, which was introduced by President Clinton in October last year, the legislation has been dubbed "Good Samaritan" law. In their joint statement, the senators said the new Bill will: "stimulate the so-called "Good Samaritan" effect where large companies assist smaller firms with their Y2K-readiness."

The legislation can be downloaded from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts at http://www.dca.gov.au