Contact us on

020 7611 4848

email us


Arrange a Callback

Ask a Question

Information Technology Law for the 21st Century

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The rapid evolution of information technology IT in the latter part of the 20th Century brought great opportunities and huge challenges in equal part. The most significant impact for individuals, businesses and society generally was felt with the arrival of the Internet and the way it transformed how information was communicated, stored and used.

Although these dramatic changes initially appeared to completely overwhelm the laws regulating information; legislators, judges and lawyers have worked hard to bring the system up to speed.

Technological Convergence

Before the age of digital technology and the Internet, different forms of information technology were regulated by separate pieces of legislation. Telephones were regulated differently from radio broadcasts and cinemas were regulated separately from televisions for example. This recognised their distinguishing features.

Since the introduction of digital technology virtually all forms of information can be recorded and stored in much the same way - on a computer hard drive. Similarly, the Internet can be used for communicating almost any type of information and it can be done in a variety of ways - static text, streamed videos or live broadcasts for example.

The convergence of technology in this way has led to a similar approach in the way the law has been developed to regulate its use.

IT Specific Legislation

Since the emergence of the Internet, numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced to regulate the way information is used. Many businesses are familiar with The Data Protection Act 1988 which implemented the European Data Protection Directive Data. The Act set out the rules governing the way in which personal data may be processed and stored. Compliance with the Act is regulated and enforced by the Information Commissioner.

Other notable pieces of legislation are The Freedom of Information Act 2000, The Communications Act 2003 and The Digital Economy Act 2010 which updated it.

The Communications Act 2003 and its successor, The Digital Economy Act 2010, were a significant step towards developing the law in the same direction that IT has developed. Responsibility for regulating telecoms and broadcasting, and latterly the postal industry and the Internet were given to the Office of Communications (OFCOM).

The legislation recognised that various forms of media are now communicated in a similar manner. It also introduced controversial measures to tackle some of the problems caused by the Internet such as copyright infringement.

If you have any questions about how IT law can affect you or your business Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can assist you. For more information please contact James Crighton via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.