This issue of JILT is representative of the great variety of issues covered by the expanding domain of information and communications technology law and applications. It also represents the width of research being undertaken within legal and socio-legal frameworks.
There have been no dramatic changes in the way courts function, yet the nature of changes in information society have not been without significance for court systems. Robin Widdison's article on Electronic Paths to Justice asks the question how information and communication technologies can assist people who otherwise do not have adequate access to justice. He suggests that ICT can assist in overcoming knowledge, psychological and access barriers.
Caroline Allinson's paper on information systems audit trails as evidence in Queensland shows in a different way how judicial and legal personnel need to come to terms with information society. This second paper in JILT by the author on the subject discusses the requirements for trusted maintenance of audit trail information in sensitive environments and the ability and/or willingness of courts to analyse the evidence. The paper concludes that there needs to be a concerted effort to understand standards, best practice methodologies, IT organisational structure and personnel responsibilities on the part of all parties in the criminal process. In particular, there is need for clear specifications and declarations as to whether a system is operating properly and the nature of responsible persons.
Brochu's article examines the ways in which the Internet is changing real property law in North America in relation to the registration of titles under Torrens systems or recording of titles under a deeds based system. With a focus on Quebec which has the latter system, the author concludes that the internet should not be seen as a panacea and will not cure an inefficient system such as currently exists in Quebec. It cannot be used 'to simply apply a coat of varnish to a recording system that is over a hundred years old and has been criticized for its lack of evidentiary force by generations of legal practitioners'.
The research study by Oppenheim and Robinson of music downloading and P2P filesharing from the internet provides an interesting and original glimpse of university student behaviour and attitudes to this important issue in copyright law. Apart from a student questionnaire, the authors have also ascertained the views of university IT Services and of music sellers. Whilst the majority of respondents to the student questionnaire said that they downloaded music from the Internet, those that downloaded the most music also spent the most on buying music. Record store interviewees did not feel that online file sharing was having a detrimental effect on sales in their stores. They tentatively suggest that claims made by the music industry that P2P file sharing is severely damaging sales are not supported, and the general decline in sales may be due to a mix of reasons.
Bamodu's article analyses the implementation of the Electronic Money Directives of the European Union in the United Kingdom and in particular considers the issues which affect consumer confidence. The paper suggests that the existence of a regulatory framework within which e-money firms operate with inbuilt consumer protection provisions may assist e-money take up. Nevertheless, there appears to be greater protection for a person whose credit card is lost, stolen or misused than for a holder of an electronic money device in similar circumstances.
Philippa Webb compares the German and Australia data protection systems, including the impact of cultural, political and economic factors on their legal content and their actual operation. Germany and Australia are not only have different legal cultures but different data protection cultures with Germany as a pioneer in data protection legislation while Australia has reacted in a slower, ad hoc manner. The author argues nevertheless that it is necessary to consider and apply where appropriate solutions across different legal cultural contexts.
Abdul Paliwala's brief commentary on Reducing Costs, Improving Access and Quality with the use of information technology raises the issue of whether information technology can fulfill the promise of achieving all three objectives for legal education. In particular, it examines the programme developed by the US Center for Academic Transformation which claims to achieve them all. He suggests that, with some strong caveats, it may be possible.
We hope you enjoy this latest edition and we look forward to receiving your valuable contributions to the journal in due course. Please send your articles to Brent Hanks.
This is an Editorial published on 15 December 2003.
Citation: Editorial 2003 (2). The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT).