Legal code: Information Technology Law
Net Neutrality. Free Speech on the Internet. Music Piracy. Governments snooping on their citizens. Who decides if all this is right, wrong or just plain murky? Who’d want to tackle the big ethical issues of the Internet Age: Wikileaks, Super-injunctions and social media, Edward Snowden? Who’d want to head Microsoft’s legal team in their Anti-Trust cases?
An LLM degree in Information Technology Law is a pretty essential step for those who like the idea of making a living untangling this knotty field. Lawyers holding such a degree can plan careers drafting, negotiating and interpreting contracts and agreements in software licensing and maintenance, e-commerce, and telecoms. Dispute resolution for website developers, internet service providers and other businesses will also be on the menu. That’s just a few areas chosen at random. It’s a vast and evolving area, and one assumes there is an increasing demand for qualified individuals.
The University of Edinburgh’s online-only LLM in Information Technology Law covers subjects where IT Law interfaces with other legal disciplines, particularly intellectual property law, commercial law and medical law. It focuses on the regulatory frameworks that govern IT in international, European and Scottish/UK settings.
The prospectus describes the course as ‘highly topical’. It’s hard to see how it could be otherwise, considering the speed with which IT law has evolved since the early 2000s. As new technologies emerge and mature, legal and ethical problems sprout up like spring wheat. What, for example, is supposed to happen to somebody’s Facebook profile when they die? Facebook have addressed this, almost certainly with the help and advice of someone with legal training in the field. But when they first looked at it, it was all new, unbroken ground, and someone had to think it through and implement it in a way that played nice with online privacy laws.
The Edinburgh LLM contains these core courses:
- Communications Law
- Electronic Commerce Law
- Forensic Computing: Electronic Evidence
- Information: Control and Power
- Information Technology Law
- Law of Robotics
- International and European Media Law
So when an industrial robot goes AWOL and takes out an entire neighbourhood, somebody will be there to pick up the legal pieces. And let’s hope that when SkyNet arrives, any lawyers involved have taken the Ethics module.