CCTA Legal Issues and the Internet Conference
Edinburgh, Dublin and London
Date of publication: 30 September 1996
Citation: Lockett, N (1996) 'CCTA Legal Issues and the Internet Conference', Conference Report, 1996 (3) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/elj/jilt/confs/3legint/>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/1996_3/ccta/>
1. Conference Introduction and Digital Fraud
The CCTA Conference on Legal Issues and the Internet was a national conference held in Edinburgh, Dublin and London during June. The conference, predominantly aimed at civil servants, considered the future of Information Technology and its impact on the courts, the role of Data Protection within cyberspace, the methodology of fraud within the Internet and the legal issues and recent case law.
Neil Barrett has worked in the role of security of technology for the Bull organisation and within the tax authorities for a number of years. Fraud was on the criminal agenda long before the Internet and the Internet has merely permitted fast access to readily available information and created a new ability to be anonymous. Barrett highlighted the simpler Internet frauds such as chain letters, e-mail and virus threats and spamming. He highlighted the growing problems with domain names and attempts to hijack domain names of well known companies, fraudulent and misleading advertising and the dangers of virtual reality shops with non-existent products. Barrett has also been looking at the technical difficulties of security of Internet e-cash and credit card transactions.
Barrett highlighted the technical methodology used to counterfeit digital goods and the techniques employed to counter copying methods. His time in with the Revenue and Customs and Excise was spent in looking at the use of the Internet for tax evasion in relation to overseas trade and provision of services to overseas clients and the conference was given an insight into the domestic impact of these activities. Finally the conference were given an insight onto the new Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) protocols and their application within the public sector and the need for and legitimate use of other encryption techniques, digital tattoos and signatures for secure document transmission.
2. Information Technology and the Legal Industry
Lord Justice Neill, Richard Susskind and Neil Cameron shared the responsibility of advising delegates about the future of information technology within the legal industry and the likely impact which it would have on litigation. The conference was given an overview of the Woolf enquiry and the significance of the implementations recommended for the legal system as a whole, as well as the civil justice system. The conference heard how the judiciary are being prepared for the court system in the 21st century and how many of the interlocutory hearings which currently exist will become things of the past as technology allows the parties to conduct pre-trial matters in cyberspace.
The conference heard about the steps being taken by the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Court Service Development Division (CSDD) including the Crown Office and Court electronic support systems CREST and LOCCS. Advances in court technology will allow automatic transcription of the case from the stenographers keypad direct to the lawyers computers (using CAT and LIVENOTE). Lord Justice Neill's IT committee (JSCIT) and the CSDD took the advances into the JUDITH project which includes teaching judges how to use electronic mail to stay in touch whilst on circuit and the benefits of conferencing technology using FELIX. Richard Susskind also discussed the steps being taken to facilitate litigation preparation and case reporting and research and the advances in voice technology, automatic document management and advanced expert systems software.
3. Data Protection
The Conference was told about the problems concerning the use and availability of private information on the internet and the need for compliance with the Data Protection Act and the new E.C. Data Protection Directive. The conference heard about the vision behind the Data Protection laws of a right of privacy within a system of fair processing of data. The conference also heard about the extensions of UK DPA law which the EC Directive will create. Delegates were warned that the Registrar was responsive to modern technologies and that a code of conduct for Internet activities was being drafted to cover all data users and data relating to identified or identifiable natural persons under Article 2a of the Directive.
The need for special care in the case of pseudo-identities on the internet were identified and whether identity protectors could legitimately be used. The internet is considered to be inherently insecure and the consequences of connecting to the internet may be to allow access to the data held. The conference were warned that inadequate firewalls would be no defence to action taken by the Registrar for failing to give proper protection to the data as required within the data protection legislation and the steps which the Registrar considered were the minimum necessary steps.
4. Internet Law Roundup and Recent cases
Finally Hamish Sanderson and his team from Bird and Bird solicitors, Roger Bickerstaff and Mark O'Conor, and internet barrister Nick Lockett presented a round up of Internet law and the recent cases. The talks covered the use of and protection offered by copyright and intellectual property laws generally, the scope and problems of defamation, security, pornography and evidential rules. The questions of implied licences by internet distribution were discussed together with jurisdictional limitations. Bird & Bird and Lockett had coordinated their talks and these provoked a barrage of questions about the numerous grey areas of law where US caselaw may not be followed in the English courts. A full text of these two talks has been compiled by Nick Lockett and is available at the Internet address http://www.barristers.co.uk/ccta.htm. It should be remembered that the talk was aimed at civil servants rather than lawyers and that some of the predictions made by Lockett about forthcoming problems have already occurred and certain case law has already been overtaken.
The conference coincided with the launch of the report on Legal Issues and the Internet available from the CCTA at £150. This 2-volume set is aimed at the professional non-lawyer and although lawyers would probably prefer to read the Bird and Bird publication 'Internet and the Law' (FT), (review published in JILT) the non-lawyer and the lawyer without previous experience of Internet issues would almost certainly find the CCTA publication easier to digest and more useful.