Information Technology Law
Guide to IT Law
What is Information Technology Law?
Information technology law provides the legal framework for collecting, storing, and disseminating electronic information in the global marketplace. Attorneys practicing in this area of the law represent individuals and businesses from all different industries. They help structure information technology transactions in a way that maximizes the client’s economic benefit while ensuring regulatory compliance. A great deal of emphasis is also placed on anticipating potential sources of dispute between the parties to a transaction, and crafting agreements that address these concerns, thereby reducing the risk of litigation.
When disputes arise in the field of information technology that cannot be resolved outside of the court system, a lawyer specializing in these types of cases can prove a powerful advocate compared to a general legal practitioner. Information technology law firms tend to hire lawyers with practical experience working in the industry prior to entering the legal profession. With such a background, a lawyer is more effective at explaining technical concepts to a judge or jury, and he or she will likely have contacts within the industry that make finding consultants and expert witnesses less difficult. Clearly, information technology law is a niche practice. Those looking to hire an attorney should bear this in mind.
Software Licensing Issues
Businesses often change or update their operating software in an effort to keep pace with technology. Switching software programs can lead to greater profitability, but it can also present any number of legal pitfalls for unsuspecting business managers. For example, a typical software licensing contract will contain provisions relating to performance warranties, installation and troubleshooting, user training, limited liability and indemnification of the vendor, infringement disclaimers, payment and finance terms, and more. Despite the complexity of these agreements, some software company representatives purposefully wait to provide a copy until shortly before the sale closes.
Owners and managers who find themselves presented with a licensing agreement that they do not completely understand should resist pressure from the sales representative to sign the document with little or no time for meaningful review. Any “deadline” imposed by the vendor is likely nothing more than a high pressure sales tactic. There is simply too much at stake in the event the software fails to meet the needs of the business. The wisest course of action is to demand additional time, and hire an information technology attorney to analyze the contract and to point out terms that should be negotiated.
Data Privacy and Security
Much of the litigation that occurs in the field of information technology results from enterprises failing to keep customer and employee information secure. Now that it is primarily stored in digital format, sensitive information is susceptible to theft on a scale unimaginable in previous generations. Hackers and other cyber criminals routinely target financial institutions, e-commerce websites, and ordinary businesses, sometimes gaining access to thousands of customers’ data all at once. This can lead to various legal claims, from government enforcement actions to class action consumer lawsuits.
Companies that have any presence on the internet should act proactively to avoid these problems. Information technology lawyers are available to audit security systems and policies, and to recommend any necessary changes. If a breach has already occurred, an experienced legal team can represent companies in investigations by the FTC or state attorneys general, and defend against civil litigation brought by private parties. Data privacy and security issues can arise at any time. To succeed in today’s business environment, it is critical to stay ahead of the curve and make safeguarding digital information a priority.
Electronic Signature Laws
Another growing area of concern for many businesses involves electronic signatures. Like digital storage, electronic signature software has the potential to dramatically streamline operations for businesses willing to embrace new technology. At the same time, care must be taken to avoid compromising sensitive customer data and/or violating government regulations on the subject. With respect to electronic signature laws, business owners should be aware of at least the following two pieces of legislation: the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN).
Nearly every state has adopted UETA in some form, while ESIGN was passed at the federal level. Together, these laws allow companies to replace traditional paper signature documents with electronic forms. Customers can agree to contractual terms with the click of a computer mouse, speeding up the turnaround time for a transaction considerably. However, UETA and ESIGN require businesses that use electronic signatures to comply with rules relating to customer consent disclosures, record retention, and document reproduction capabilities. Again, engaging an attorney to conduct a compliance review in this area is highly recommended.
Information Technology Attorneys
If you conduct any type of business activity online, there are information technology laws affecting you, whether you realize it or not. You need to know if your current practices are exposing your business to potential liability. To learn more, contact an information technology lawyer today.
Information Technology Law - US
- ABA - Legal Technology Resource Center
The ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center is where legal professionals turn for technology information. The LTRC staff educates the legal profession on technology usage and trends. The LTRC provides a comprehensive collection of technology resources and information. The LTRC strives to remain at the forefront of technology issues facing the legal community.
- Electronic Communications Privacy Act
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA Pub. L. 99-508, Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1848, 18 U.S.C. § 2510) was enacted by the United States Congress to extend government restrictions on wire taps from telephone calls to include transmissions of electronic data by computer. Specifically, ECPA was an amendment to Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (the Wiretap Statute), which was primarily designed to prevent unauthorized government access to private electronic communications.
- Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
Title III of the E-Government Act, entitled the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requires each federal agency to develop, document, and implement an agency-wide program to provide information security for the information and information systems that support the operations and assets of the agency, including those provided or managed by another agency, contractor, or other source.
- Health Information Privacy (HIPAA)
The Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information held by covered entities and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. The Privacy Rule is balanced so that it permits the disclosure of personal health information needed for patient care and other important purposes.
- 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".
- Judiciary Information Technology Fund
There is hereby established in the Treasury of the United States a special fund to be known as the “Judiciary Information Technology Fund” (hereafter in this section referred to as the “Fund”). Moneys in the Fund shall be available to the Director without fiscal year limitation for the procurement (by lease, purchase, exchange, transfer, or otherwise) of information technology resources for program activities included in the courts of appeals, district courts, and other judicial services account of the judicial branch of the United States.
- Paperwork Reduction Act
The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-511, 94 Stat. 2812 (Dec. 11, 1980), codified in part at Subchapter I of Chapter 35 of Title 44 of the United States Code, 44 U.S.C. § 3501 through 44 U.S.C. § 3521, is a United States federal law enacted in 1980 that gave authority over the collection of certain information to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Within the OMB, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was established with specific authority to regulate matters regarding federal information and to establish information policies. These information policies were intended to reduce the total amount of paperwork handled by the United States government and the general public.
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act - Electronic and Information Technology
Standards issued by the Board under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act cover access to electronic and information technology procured by Federal agencies. These standards are part of the Federal government’s procurement regulations. The Board is conducting a joint update of these standards and its guidelines for telecommunications products.
Organizations Related to Information Technology Law
- Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
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.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.
- Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS)
The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) is the research and engineering laboratory of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). ITS supports such NTIA telecommunications objectives as promotion of advanced telecommunications and information infrastructure development in the United States, enhancement of domestic competitiveness, improvement of foreign trade opportunities for U.S. telecommunications firms, and facilitation of more efficient and effective use of the radio spectrum.
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.
- National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policies. In this role, NTIA frequently works with other Executive Branch agencies to develop and present the Administration's position on these issues.
- NIST - Information Technology Portal
Advancing the state-of-the-art in IT in such applications as cyber security and biometrics, the National Institute of Standards and Technology accelerates the development and deployment of systems that are reliable, usable, interoperable, and secure; advances measurement science through innovations in mathematics, statistics, and computer science; and conducts research to develop the measurements and standards infrastructure for emerging information technologies and applications.
- Office of International Affairs (OIA)
NTIA’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) is the principal adviser to the President on international telecommunications and information policy. In fulfilling this role, OIA has two primary responsibilities: the formulation of the Administration’s international infomation and communications technology (ICT) goals and strategies and advocate and advance U.S. policy interests and objectives in bilateral, regional and multilateral fora and consultations.
- Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications
NTIA's Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications (OTIA) assists public and non-profit entities in effectively using telecommunications and information technologies to better provide public services and advance other national goals. In addition, the office is administering programs that are helping the nation's transition to digital televison.
Publications Related to Information Technology Law
- Computer and Information Technology, Communications and Internet Law
The University of Chicago Library serves its users from five campus libraries, all of which are located on the main Hyde Park campus. We are also in the process of building the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, a state-of-the-art facility at the heart of campus.
- Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values. EPIC publishes an award-winning e-mail and online newsletter on civil liberties in the information age - the EPIC Alert. We also publish reports and even books about privacy, open government, free speech, and other important topics related to civil liberties.
Articles on HG.org Related to Information Technology Law
- When Should I Call the Police?Many people may be hesitant to involve law enforcement in their daily lives. However, there are certain times when the police should be called to help protect citizens and their rights.
- Can a Lawyer Help with Extradition?Extradition is the process in which one country or state that has possession of a criminal suspect hands him or her over to another country or state. A lawyer may be able to help with this process by fighting extradition or by helping to facilitate it, according to the suspect’s wishes and the governing law.
- What You Need To Do After Being Bitten By a Vicious DogDog bites occur all the time across the country. Something many people do not realize is that you have legal rights if a dog bites you. You can file a claim to be compensated for anything from medical bills to lost wages.
- How to Get Legal Assistance when the Sheriff Doesn't AssistQuestion: What can I do if someone kicked in my door, stole my property, took over and the sheriff did not help me?
- My Father Was Arrested and I Don’t Know What to DoQuestion: My father was arrested for a money laundering case. I learned this through his colleagues. It has been about 21 days and we do not know where he is. What can we do?
- Determining Custody of Children with Special NeedsDivorce of parents is doubly difficult for children with special needs. Parents and the judicial system have to carefully plan to secure their future.
- Federal Arraignment ProcessWhen a person is being charged with the commission of a federal crime, he or she usually goes through a federal arraignment process. There are specific guidelines regarding the individual’s rights and the procedures that the court must follow.
- Can Federal Restitution Be Forgiven?Federal restitution may be ordered after a person has committed a crime and the court wishes to compensate the victim for this crime. Based on current law, federal restitution orders not expire until they have been repaid in full. Generally, federal restitution cannot be discharged with bankruptcy.
- The Mechanic Damaged My Vehicle - What Can I Do?Question: I took my car in for service and when it was returned, my transmission was no longer working properly. The mechanic said that he didn’t do anything to it, but the vehicle was working perfectly when I left it at his place of business. I am not sure what type of lawyer I need or what I can do about the situation.
- What Do I Do about Damage Caused to My Vehicle at the Mechanic’s?It is difficult to find a trustworthy mechanic. If you have taken your vehicle into the mechanic’s shop and he or she has done more damage than repair work on the vehicle, you may have a legal cause of action. However, a lawyer familiar with property damage cases may be able to advise whether it is worth the time and expense of litigation or if an alternative would better serve your interests.
- 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.