Chapter 18. Legal Issues: Civil

When you operate a computer, you have more to fear than break-ins and physical disasters. You also need to worry that the actions of some of your users (or yourself) may result in violation of the law, or civil action. Here, we present a few notable concerns in this area, insofar as they relate to the use of the World Wide web under U.S. law.[101] The material we present should be viewed as general advice and not as legal opinion. Chapter 19, looks at the other side of the law—criminal issues that arise for the Web.

The law is changing rapidly in the areas of computer use and abuse. It is also changing rapidly with regard to networks and network communication. We cannot hope to provide information here that will always be up to date. One outstanding book on this subject is Internet & Web Law 1996 by William J. Cook[102] which summarizes some of the recent rulings in computer and network law in the year 1996. Cook’s report has almost 100 pages of major case summaries and incidents, all of which represent recent legal decisions. The pace of legal rulings in 1997 and beyond will be even more profound.

As more people use computers and networks and more commercial interests are tied into computing, we can expect the pace of new legislation, legal decisions, and other actions to increase. Therefore, as with any other aspect of the law, you are advised to seek competent legal counsel if you have any questions about whether these concerns may apply to you. ...

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