The legal aspects of computing relate to aspects of law that are found in the computing world. There are three types of law that intersect with computing;
- Information Technology (IT)
- Computer Law
IT law came first and it is made up of different regulations, case-law, and statutes that cover areas of software and the dissemination of digital information. It also covers the legal aspects of information technology in a broad manner which includes information security as well as electronic commerce. In essence, laws that cover aspects where paper trails have no paper.
Computer Law deals with issues that relate to Cyberlaw in terms of copyright and patent areas which cover software and computer technology. Cyberlaw or Internet Law covers all legal aspects of the internet itself generally in terms of contract law, internet property, access, usage, privacy, and freedom of expression.
Computing Law in Everyday Life
Basically, this is contract, privacy, data and individual property protection that includes copyright, fair use, and the like. The area of this law is still being defined by countries in Europe for example depending on what is being used, but essentially IT law covers all types of agreements that includes patents on software, licenses, license agreements, open-source, and more.
In many countries the law is overseen by the government and its use will be seen through that light. So, laws in the US for example may not exist in other countries. This means that the protection of intellectual property on the internet may be covered by one country, but not another. However, most computing law is uniform across the internet.
Warrants, contract law, trade secrets, and the like are also covered by computing law, although the home country where the property resides will have the final say depending on what has happened. In addition, there are laws that govern spamming, unauthorized access, and data privacy that are recognized around the world at least on the internet. Plus, there are limits to the use of encryption and equipment that can be used to overcome the protections placed on property.
One of the more publicized aspects of computing law is net neutrality which concerns the very structure of the internet. Because all information passes through property of individuals, companies, organizations, and government entities, net neutrality is designed to keep uniform standards for a free and open internet. The issue of net neutrality is continuing to be debated with the FCC recently ruling on the subject setting guidelines for the foreseeable future.
There are also laws that cover taxation, trade, consumer protection, and advertising on the internet. Plus, you’ll find laws that govern personal behavior such as censorship, freedom of expression, and laws on public access to government information and the like.
Computing laws are an ever-changing set of rules and regulations that must adapt to new technology that is put into place. For example, the development of encryption enabled greater privacy and thus generated laws about how it can be used and what methods could be incorporated to break encryption codes. However, the final say on most laws resides with the governments of the country where the action takes place.