What is Computer Law?
Computer Law relates to and crosses over with a number of legal areas affecting the design and use of computers and software, and the transmission of data via physical media or across data networks.
One major area of concern for computer law is intellectual property. The design of computer hardware and software are typically protected by patents. The logos of various products are protected by trademark. Many programs and other information may be protected by copyrights. Another major area of concern for computer law is the transmission of copyrighted materials over the Internet. Intellectual property is a huge portion of the field of computer law.
Another major area of concern for computer law is privacy. This includes protecting confidential information during transactions, like credit card numbers, as well as keeping private the materials one may have stored on a hard drive. Much of this body of law relates to internet security and anti-hacking laws.
One area that has seen a great deal of recent growth in recent years is anti-hacking laws. These laws are designed to punish individuals who attempt to break into the computers and networks of others. Several laws have rendered it criminal to access files on another's computer without their permission or to take over full or partial control of another's computer without their knowledge.
Another area of computer law that has seen a great deal of attention from the government through regulation is SPAM e-mail. SPAM is an unwanted e-mail communication, usually pertaining to a commercial interests of some sort. Although annoying, some SPAM has also been used to conceal viruses and spyware. As a result, the laws regarding SPAM aim not only to curtail it because it is a nuisance, but also because it could expose innocent users to danger.
Other Areas of Interest
Computer law is an ever evolving area of the law and will no doubt continue to grow and evolve along with technology. As a result, other areas of interest to computer law include the legalities of file sharing, taxation of electronic commerce, electronic signatures, regulation of data transfer rates, and many others.
For more information about computer law, please reference the materials below. Additionally, you can find an attorney in your area specializing in this area of law by visiting our Law Firms page.
Computer Law - US
- ABA - Committee on Technology and Information Systems
The Committee was created in 1997 as a successor to the Coordinating Commission on Legal Technology (CCOLT) and is comprised of representatives from a number of Association entities selected by the ABA President to provide guidance and oversight for the Association's technology initiatives.
- BitLaw Legal Resource
BitLaw is a comprehensive Internet resource on technology and intellectual property law. In this site, you will find complete copies of the United States Patent, Copyright, and Trademark statutes, as well as the relevant regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations. BitLaw also includes converted versions of the TMEP and MPEP (the office manuals created by the United States Trademark and Patent Offices, respectively). Each of these documents include links to the relevant statutory and regulatory sections. Finally, BitLaw contains a great deal of custom written descriptions of how these areas of the law affect the computer and technology industries.
- Computer and Information Technology Law - Definition
Information Technology Law (or IT Law) is a set of recent legal enactments, currently in existence in several countries, which governs the process and dissemination of information digitally. These legal enactments cover a broad gamut of different aspects relating to computer software, protection of computer software, access and control of digital information, privacy, security, internet access and usage, and electronic commerce. These laws have been described as "paper laws" for "paperless environment".
- Computer Security Act of 1987
In 1987, the U.S. Congress, led by Rep. Jack Brooks, enacted a law reaffirming that the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the Department of Commerce, was responsible for the security of unclassified, non-military government computer systems. Under the law, the role of the National Security Agency (NSA) was limited to providing technical assistance in the civilian security realm. Congress rightly felt that it was inappropriate for a military intelligence agency to have control over the dissemination of unclassified information.
- Cornell Institute for Computer Policy and Law (ICPL)
The EDUCAUSE / Cornell Institute for Computer Policy and Law provides leadership to colleges and universities in developing information technology policies. Founded in 1996 at Cornell University, the Institute incorporates experts from a wide variety of fields, including chief information officers, student judicial-affairs administrators, librarians, attorneys, policy officers, and many others. The Institute supports the professional development of information technology, policy and legal professionals within higher education to facilitate the creation and administration of effective information technology policies. It also monitors and analyzes changes in technology and law to assess the impact of those changes on academic information technology policy.
- Digital Signature Legislation
Legislators and business leaders long recognized that the passage of some kind of digital legislation was of central importance to the development of e-commerce. However, for several years Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress haggled over what should be included in such a bill. In the meantime, several states passed their own legislation allowing some forms of digital signatures to be legally binding in certain situations. When a major piece of national legislation went into effect in 2000, it was heralded as a giant step toward the harmonization of interstate and international laws, and was expected to help propel e-commerce forward in the early 2000s.
- eSign Laws and Regulations
On June 30, 2000 President Clinton signed the "Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act" (ESIGN) using his electronic signature ID, and thereby established the validity of electronic signatures for interstate and international commerce.
- Health Information Technology Act of 2009
This bill encourages the use of clinical health care informatics systems and services by offering monetary incentives to health care providers in order to offset the related costs of such technology. It would also seek to develop national standards regarding data and communication health information technology, working towards the goals of efficient data exchange and improved health care quality while protecting patient privacy and security.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology - Computer Security Division
The E-Government Act [Public Law 107-347] passed by the 107th Congress and signed into law by the President in December 2002 recognized the importance of information security to the economic and national security interests of the United States. Title III of the E-Government Act, entitled the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), included duties and responsibilities for the Computer Security Division in Section 303 “National Institute of Standards and Technology.”
Computer Law - International
- Computer Law Association (CLA)
The Computer Law Association (CLA) is one of the world’s largest international organizations of information technology law professionals. With members on all continents except Antarctica, and with 70 percent of new members joining from countries other than the United States, CLA enjoys a unique position in bringing together the world’s information technology law community.
- Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID)
The Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID), an initiative approved by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2006, was launched after comprehensive worldwide consultations with governments, the private sector, civil society, the technical and Internet communities and academia.
- United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force
In March 2001, the United Nations Economic and Social Council requested the Secretary-General to establish an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force. This initiative is intended to lend a truly global dimension to the multitude of efforts to bridge the global digital divide, foster digital opportunity and thus firmly put ICT at the service of development for all.
Organizations Related to Computer Law
- Canadian IT Law Association
The Canadian IT Law Association ("IT.CAN") was founded in 1997 by a group of Canadian information technology lawyers from across the country. It was intended to provide a national forum for Canadian practitioners to discuss the uniquely Canadian aspects of IT law and related fields of e-commerce and intellectual property.
- Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility - CPSR
CPSR is a global organization promoting the responsible use of computer technology. Founded in 1981, CPSR educates policymakers and the public on a wide range of issues. CPSR has incubated numerous projects such as Privaterra, the Public Sphere Project, EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center), the 21st Century Project, the Civil Society Project, and the CFP (Computers, Freedom & Privacy) Conference. Originally founded by U.S. computer scientists, CPSR now has members in 26 countries on six continents.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people's radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.
- International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law (IAAIL)
IAAIL is a nonprofit association devoted to promoting research and development in the field of AI and Law, with members throughout the world. IAAIL organizes a biennial conference (ICAIL), which provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest research results and practical applications and stimulates interdisciplinary and international collaboration.
ITechLaw is a not-for-profit organization established to inform and educate lawyers about the unique legal issues arising from the evolution, production, marketing, acquisition and use of information and communications technology. We provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and in-depth examination of information technology and telecommunications law issues.
- Law Enforcement Information Technology Standards Council (LEITSC)
The Mission of LEITSC is to foster the growth of strategic planning and implementation of integrated justice systems. Together, participants from these organizations represent the voice of law enforcement as a whole on information technology standard issues.
Publications Related to Computer Law
- Info / Law - Information Law
What is Information Law? We see it as an obvious convergence of intellectual property doctrine, communications regulation, First Amendment norms, and new technology. As information becomes the most precious commodity of the 21st century, the law surrounding it will have to evolve. That’s what we want to talk and think about here — along with various related and not-so-related threads (“information” covers a lot of ground!).
- International Journal of Law and Information Technology
The International Journal of Law and Information Technology provides cutting edge and comprehensive analysis of Information Technology, communications and cyberspace law as well as the issues arising from applying Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to legal practice. International in scope, this journal has become essential for legal and computing professionals and legal scholars of the law related to IT.
- John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law
The John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law is an international law review dedicated to current issues in information technology and privacy law. As one of the first of its kind, the Journal fills a unique niche among legal academic publications, addressing cutting-edge topics with input from scholars around the world.
- Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal
First in its field, the Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal strives to keep judges, policymakers, practitioners and the academic community abreast of the dynamic legal issues arising from society's interaction with computers and emerging technologies. Rutgers law students founded the Journal in 1969, far in advance of the ubiquity of computers and networking technology. Since its inception, the Journal has maintained a tradition of excellence and has designed each issue to foster critical discourse on the technological breakthroughs impacting the legal landscape. The Journal's success is reflected in a subscription base of about four hundred national and international subscribers, as well as in its citation in numerous texts, articles and judicial opinions, including those of the United States Supreme Court.
Articles on HG.org Related to Computer Law
- How an Expert Witness Can Help in a Data Security Breach CaseData security is crucial in both keeping information safe and running a business that relies upon online and networked transactions. As more companies are progressing forward through the future in the electronic age, data security and information systems become the most important aspects of a business.
- The Need for Hosting Account Protections through Secure Socket LayersHosting accounts are the housing of a website’s content. The files, photos, video and audio files are contained in these hosting accounts, and with the right coding and server information, a site may be viewed online for the public consumption. Some of these have password protected areas, some are membership based and some are available to everyone.
- IT Services Agreements: Liability of Outsourced IT ServicesOver the years, technological advances have allowed many companies to outsource much of the creation, maintenance and support of their information technology (“IT”) systems. Today, there are many IT service providers providing managed network services, hosted services, cloud-based services and software-as-a-service.
- Private Investigators Help Prevent Catfishing SchemesCatfishing schemes have become more common as social media presence has increased over time. They often lure unsuspecting victims in, potentially costing them time, money and frustration.
- When Electronic Snooping Is IllegalElectronic snooping has been determined to be a form of fraud through the use of computers by federal laws in certain instances. Felony charges may be issued to those that snoop in this manner, as information is stolen and terrorism may occur through cyber attacks and computer-related crime.
- Top Dos and Don’ts of Cyber CrimesSince the technological boom, crimes involving computers and the internet have been on the rise. These are usually referred to as cyber crimes. Because of this, laws have had to evolve to deal with these new and creative ways to break the law to include advanced law enforcement policies, lawyer assistance and how judges handle these cases.
- When Virtual Crimes become Crimes IRLVirtual crimes are committed through the use of digital software, the internet and computers. Virtual outlets such as The Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens and various others are allowing this crime to be committed through virtual reality hardware with a software interface.
- When Is a Cybercrime Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Committed?Some situations of cybercrime have become so complicated that it takes multiple courts to determine if the crime falls under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. One such case was tried against someone that convinced his friends to access unauthorized information for them after he had left the company.
- Defining Internet CrimesThe internet is a multifaceted place that involves at least millions of computers across the entire world. Criminal activity is available in every corner of the physical world as well as the digital world. Anything a person may imagine could become real with the use of processing power.
- The Difficulty of Prosecuting Claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse ActSince the 1990s, computers and fraud have become synonymous. Many individuals have initiated crimes of fraud with various companies through the use of a personal or anonymous computer. These could be used at a person’s home, through an internet café, a library or similar location.
- All Science and Technology Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Science and Technology including: biotechnology, chemical law, computer and software, data protection, information technology, internet law, research and development, telecommunications law.