Tag Archives: Internet

Legal Implications of Internet Filtering

Five years, eleven months and some 5 days or so after my very first lecture on law, I have handed in my final contribution to my six years of legal studies. As it is a work of some importance, both academically and personally, I publish it here.

Here’s the non-legal intro to show you what it’s all about. Or you can omit reading it here, and read it in the document itself: Legal Implications of Internet Filtering.

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Law Code: a new website for a new topic

Rather than keep on posting my random thoughts about the effects of code and law, I thought it might be good to create a new website for the discussion of the effects of the adoption of code as a means of regulating behaviour.

If you have any interest in the questions of why countries filter the Internet, of why speed bumps are preferred to simple car speeding laws, of how Alex in A Clockwork Orange may be our future, I heartily recommend that you take a look at lawcode.net, a place where a few friends and myself will attempt to bring these questions into the open, with the hope that as time goes by, people from all over will contribute articles or short columns.

You don’t need to be a lawyer and you don’t need to be a technologist. All you need is an interest, however remote, in the questions that will appear there. So why not take a look and see what you think?

Law Code: choice is but a memory.

Control over information

If there is one issue in our information society, where we generate information at every moment, it’s the issue of control over information.

People want their private information to remain private until made public by themselves, but once the information is made public, there is no way for them to control this information any more. On the internet, especially, it is hard to erase information that you would want to see disappear, notably if the information in question does not cause harm to your reputation.

Companies want to protect trade secrets as well as much commercial information, but while we tend to speak of information being “given”, “transferred”, “licensed for use”, the law doesn’t recognise information as being remotely similar to property, and this can lead to certain issues. Indeed, if reverse engineering is possible and if it is impossible for the company to obtain a patent, it may be easy for a competitor to find the information, and there’s nothing the company can do about it.

What can we do about it?

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Free speech on the internet

In my 14 effective days of internship so far in a large law firm, i.e. at the 2/3rds of the internship, I have mainly worked on one single, important case involving freedom of speech on the internet. Though there were times during my research when I felt despair for lack of tangible results (basically, few people seem to tackle the subject in a manner of interest to us in the case), the subject was truly interesting, and the occasional golden find encouraged me to keep going.

This research, mainly focussed on internet liability (legal responsibility, for non-lawyers), was a true eye-opener, because I had never thought of the internet from that angle: how free is speech on the internet?

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Caught in the web

So many hours spent on the internet!

Whether for work or for leisure, I seem to spend my days online, from looking up legal translations of terminology to accessing documents, from checking news websites to asking the almighty Google for tutorials and trivia. It is both a blessing and a curse.

I feel addicted. Yet, fortunately, I’m still able to play board games, play music, read books, …, without feeling the urge to touch a computer.

I wonder: will future generations in our computerised world even have the luxury of not using the web the whole while that they are awake?

Thoughts to be read worldwide

A question that nagged at my mind a few times these past months was what makes people use Twitter, WordPress and other such services.

Why blog? Why tweet? Why change status every day on Facebook?

My analysis is biased, as I favour blogs over Twitter pages and Facebook activity, but I might as well post my thoughts. Who knows, they might some day be read worldwide.

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Clueless spam

Every now and again, I take the time to glance at spam messages. And once in a while, there’s a jewel of ignorance that shines forth.

Case in point: “we have been authorised by the newly appointed UN Secretary General […] to officially inform you that your pending inheritance sum of $3.6M […] ready to be sent to you as to avoid all the omplications you may be passing your attempt to claim your funds from the African banks […]”.

The omitted “c” in “…omplications” and the lack of sense “omplications you may be passing your attempt to claim” aside, I have to say I love the idea.

The UN Secretary General deals with inheritance (UNO = “ur nan OD’ed”, i.e. your grandma overdosed).
And there is such a thing as “the African banks” (yes, Africa is one single united country).

I love spam.