Internet and Cyberspace Law
The Internet brought with it news ways of conducting business, but also presented a number of new situations which the existing legal structure was ill equipped to handle.
Foremost among these new challenges is the digital age's unprecedented ability to gather and maintain large amounts of data. In the past, these mundane pieces of information -- addresses, birthdays, photos, shopping habits -- were not necessarily private but were very difficult for one person to find. However, computers can store incredible amounts of information, and data mining algorithms can use this information to create complete individual portraits. Many lawmakers are currently evaluating policies that seek to maintain privacy while still allowing some people to extract useful information from the data.
Computers and the Internet affect many other areas of law. The ability to quickly, cheaply, and accurately copy and disseminate copyrighted works presents new challenges for intellectual property lawyers. Consumers habitually agree to arcane End User Licensing Agreements without truly understanding them in order to use important websites and online services. Finally, the Internet allows people from different states and nations to conduct business and communicate with ease, which brings transactions that were typically the domain of one government into the domain of several different governments.
Terms to Know
- Identity Theft: A crime that occurs when someone uses another person's data, such as their social security number or credit card number, to conduct business.
- Phishing: A crime involving the use of a false identity to convince unsuspecting consumers to disclose personally identifying information.
Related Practice Areas
- Intellectual Property: Intellectual property can be easily stolen over the Internet since data can be copied so easily and accurately.
- Privacy Law: The Internet allows corporations and other entities to take information that was once private or semi-private.
- Business and E-Commerce Law: The Internet allows corporations to reach more customers and create business opportunities, but corporations must do so safely.
- Consumer Law: Some vendors use the Internet to scam consumers and sell products that do not meet the U.S.'s safety standards.
- Criminal Law: Stealing another person's identifying information, and using it without permission, is considered a crime.
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