Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
GF10110/LA10110 or LA30110 or LA15710

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. Two one hour lectures per week
Seminars / Tutorials 4 Hours. Seminar. Four one hour seminars during the semester


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Seen Examination  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Seen Examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Demonstrate an understanding of the way in which the flow of information is regulated by the law and the way in which this is influenced by policy considerations, particularly in relation to confidential information of a commercial, private or governmental nature. They will appreciate the way in which the increasing use of computers has led to challenges to traditional legal concepts and have the confidence to apply established legal principles to new and innovative technology. This will, in turn, give them the ability to formulate responses to the practical challenges which such technology causes for practitioners, the courts and the legislature. In particular students will be able to:

- explain the rationale behind official secrets legislation and freedom of information legislation and the tension between them,
- evaluate the scope and extent of the legal controls on governmental information in the UK and the EU,
- appreciate the relationship between privacy and data protection and the extent to which data protection legislation is protective of the privacy of data subjects,
- apply the substantive provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 to practical situations,
- appreciate the policy issues underlying any decision to protect confidential information in a commercial environment,
- apply the common law and equitable obligations of confidence to a range of practical situations,
- appreciate the difficulties in classifying information as confidential and protectable in employment cases,
- evaluate the roles of the civil and criminal law in protecting trade secrets,
- assess the legal difficulties arising out of the increasing use of global computer networks for the dissemination of information of all types.

Brief description

In recent years the world has undergone an information revolution. Information is a very valuable commercial asset and the balance of computing power can have noticeable side-effects on the world economic and strategic order. Information is an asset which challenges traditional legal concepts as most laws were developed to deal with tangible assets such as land, books etc. In addition, the ability to flip data around the world in the blink of an eye requires international legal consideration, as well as domestic.

Information is a very powerful commodity for those who hold it and those who suffer as a consequence of the misuse of information will look for redress. Whether or not they are successful may depend on the type of information in question. The aim of the course is to study information in its many manifestations be they private, governmental or commercial and to evaluate the legal controls on its access, use and disclosure. These will be studied in the context of the complex interaction of public policies with the intention of raising awareness and stimulating interest in legal response to technological change. The advent of computers has had a profound effect on the way information is used and handled and part of the course will concentrate on some of the legal issues this has raised. However, no familiarity with computers or computer skills are necessary and any technical terms will be explained!


To study the response of the law to information, whether private, governmental or commercial, and evaluate the legal controls on its access, use and disclosure. To foster understanding of the complex interaction of the public policies governing these areas. To analyse and assess the effect of computerisation on the way in which information is manipulated and stored and the legal response to technological change.


1. Introduction

1.1 What is information law?

2. Government and Information
2.1 Approaches to the regulation of government information
2.2. Arguments for and against freedom of information
2.3 Aspects of freedom of information legislation in other jurisdictions
2.4 Freedom of information in the European Union
2.5 Government and information in the UK including the Official Secrets Acts and the Freedom of information Act 2000

3. Commercial Confidentiality
3.1 The nature of breach of confidence
3.2 Employees and breach of confidence
3.3 The division of breach of confidence: criminalisation and the Law Commission's proposals

4. Personal information and Data Protection
4.1 Background to the legislation
4.2 Council of Europe Convention
4.3 Data protection and privacy
4.4 The EC directive on data protection and the Data Protection Act 1998
4.5 Data Protection and the Internet

5. The Information Highway - Legal Issues
5.1 The nature of the problem
5.2 Regulatory issues and the Internet
5.3 Approaches to the problems in different jurisdiction

Reading List

General Text
There is no one book recommended, the following texts are useful and students will be referred to more specific reading matter
Recommended Text
Diane Rowland and Elizabeth Macdonald (2005) Information Technology Law 3rd ed. Cavendish Primo search
Recommended Background
Chris Reed & John Angel (2007) Computer Law 6th ed. Oxford University Press Primo search Patrick Birkinshaw (2001) Government and Information: The Law Relating to Access, Disclosure and Their Regulation 2nd ed. Butterworths Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6