Professor Abdul Paliwala
We welcome readers to Issue 2 of 2001. Our papers for this issue cover many diverse IT and law topics including: Internet regulation; privacy, consumer protection and human rights; data, software and intellectual property protection; e-commerce, business and legal practice; as well as touching on accessibility issues, the information society and CAL and distance learning.
This issue includes ten refereed articles, one commentary, four book reviews and a Work in Progress piece. International perspectives are offered from Australia, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, the UK and the US. So, with so many broad and topical papers to enjoy, you may want to settle down for a good read.
Regulation of the Internet is a controversial and important concern, and, some may argue, the fundamental building block on which the informational networks stand. Yaman Akdeniz in his article, The Regulation of Pornography and Child Pornography on the Internet ( JILT, 1997 (1)) states:
The full potential of the development of the Internet will depend on society as a whole striking the right balance between freedom of speech and public interest considerations; between policies designed to foster the emergence of new services and the need to ensure that the opportunities they create are not abused by the few at the expense of the many.
And this is the point. What should be regulated and by whom and what level of regulation and privacy is acceptable to users and organisations?
Carolyn Penfold, in her article on Nazis, Porn and Politics examines Australia's attempts to control internet content and compares this with a French court decision forcing Yahoo, as an Internet Service Provider, to block users' access to certain 'offensive' content. Penfold concludes that although these two attempts to control access to internet content presently appear ineffective, they are important as they signal to other nations their willingness to act on regulation, and this may provide the impetus for greater international co-operation.
Samtani Anil debates Internet content regulation in Singapore, within the context of the new Singapore Internet Code of Practice. He suggests that 'the clamor among many younger Singaporeans for a more relaxed stance on censorship, coupled with the more internationalist outlook of the younger Singaporeans, could well augur the eventual demise of the Internet Code of Practice'.
Grijpink and Prins explore a different facet of the privacy issue, the increasing use of anonymous electronic transactions on the Internet, with the perspective of examining how more space can be created for reliable legal transactios on an 'absolutely anonymous' basis. They discuss the Dutch private law system and analyse whether new legal rules are required to protect consumer interests.
Regulation and privacy issues are inextricably linked with data protection, copyright and intellectual property, and this leads onto our next few articles.
Warren et al set the scene by analysing the current state of knowledge and research concerning data protection, human rights and the right to privacy within the workplace. The paper highlights recent legislation, in particular the 1995 European Data Protection Directive, the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and the UK Human Rights Act 1998, and assesses whether this legislation offers adequate protection for individual privacy.
John Hogan provides a dynamic analysis of competition policy for computer software markets in the light of the recent Microsoft antitrust litigation. This article is also up to date at the time of publishing, as amendments have been added to take account of the partial reversal of the decision. In the article, he discusses the various issues in the area, such as 'incompatibility strategies', 'maximising consumer welfare' and the term and scope of copyright protection for software.
An understanding of technical issues involving computer code is essential to our understanding of governance mechanisms such as intellectual property rights. Camp and Symne in their probing examination of code, suggest that such governance mechanisms should distinguish between code in software developed for the mass market and that developed for an individual.
Cailloux and Roquilly's paper highlights how successful e-commerce requires a secure legal infrastructure. In their view this security can be assisted by a careful legal audit of website risks. They propose a new methodology and classification system that aids companies in assessing their original online material, and deciding what legal risks they need to address and how to treat them accordingly.
How e-commerce is taxed is also another important, though rarely discussed area. Subhajit Basu covers this more than adequately in both his commentary, which revisits the international priciples of taxation and co-operation, and in his review of William Craig's book - The Taxation of Electronic Commerce.
There are two book reviews which provide further insight into the e-commerce debate, amongst other things - and these are by Charles Oppenheim who reviews Butterworth's E-Commerce: A Guide to the Law of Electronic Business, 2nd Edition, and John Dickie who reviews Edwards and Waelde's second edition of Law and the Internet.
The mushrooming of law firm websites in the last decade has resulted in concerns about what is to be considered the best use of the sites. Duncan et al's paper is based on empirical research of websites using Evans and Wurster's conceptual of 'richness' and 'reach', where Reach refers to the number of people who share particular information, with Richness, which is a more complex concept combining bandwidth, customisation, interactivity, reliability, security and currency.
The use of ICT in law firms and the flow of quality legal information is further examined by Petter Gottschalk who examines how Eurojuris law firms in Norway have invested in information and communication technologies to facilitate inter-organisational knowledge networks.
In her work in progress paper, Hornle attempts to tackle another contentious area of e-commerce, and this is the difficult and highly complex area of online dispute resolution. It becomes apparent, that there are no clear solutions and much research still needs to be carried out in this area.
There is a need for greater discussion on legal issues relating to accessibility of ICT. Leading the way is the detailed study by Martin Sloan. Although there has been exponential growth of the opportunities provided by e-commerce and e-learning for most people, Sloan argues that still a large percentage of the Internet remains inaccessible to many parts of the disabled community and therefore their full participation in the information society remains limited. He examines some global experiences in the light of recent UK legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and addresses what has and needs to be done.
Finally a look into some of the social, economic and policy strategies surrounding the information society is proferred by Charles Oppenheim in his review of Mansell and
We hope you enjoy what we believe to be a mostly interesting issue, and of course we welcome any comments you may have on any of the articles.
The next issue, 2001 (3), will be published in full at the end of October 2001. As ever we are keen to highlight new and important areas of research, so please contact us if you have a paper you would like to be considered for publication, be it an academic paper, commentary, information paper, a work in progress or book or IT review. Please contact the Production Manager if you would like to discuss anything further or see the Submission Standards for further information. Papers for the October 2001 issue should be submitted by mid September.
This Editorial was published on 2 July 2001.
Citation: 'Editorial', 2001 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-2/editorial.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2001_2/editorial/>.