Module Identifier LA32610  
Academic Year 2000/2001  
Co-ordinator Dr Diane Rowland  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Ms Allison Coleman  
Pre-Requisite LA10110 or LA30110 or LA15710  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours Two one hour lectures per week  
  Seminar   4 Hours Four one hour seminars during the semester  
Assessment Exam   2 Hours   100%  
  Resit assessment   By Examination.    
Professional Exemptions Not Required for Professional Purposes  

Module 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!

Aims of the module
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.

Module objectives / Learning outcomes
Students will gain 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 consideration, 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.

1. Introduction
1.1 What is information law?

2. Official Secrets Legislation
2.1 Rationale - a primitive method of control?
2.2. Official Secrets Acts 1889 and 1911
2.3 Franks Report and pressure for reform
2.4 Official Secrets Act 1989

3. Freedom of Information
3.1 The arguments for and against
3.2 Freedom of Information in other jurisdictions
3.4 Freedom of Information and rights of access to information in Europe and the UK
3.5 Open Government and the Government of Wales Act 1998

4. Data Protection
4.1 Background to the legislation
4.2 Council of Europe Convention
4.3 Data Protection Act 1984
4.4 Data protection and privacy
4.5 The EC directive on data protection and the Data Protection Act 1998
4.6 Privacy protection on computer networks

5. Commercial Confidentiality
5.1 The nature of breach of confidence
5.2 Employees and breach of confidence
5.3 The division of breach of confidence: criminalisation and the Law Commission's new proposals.

6. Regulation of information on the Internet
6.1 Categories of computer crime including computer fraud and hacking
6.2 Crime and networked information
6.3 Problems of Internet regulation
6.4 Some approaches to Internet regulation

Reading Lists
** Recommended Text
Diane Rowland and Elizabeth Macdonald. (1997) Information Technology Law. Cavendish
Ian Lloyd. (1997) Information Technology Law. 2nd. Butterworths
Chris Reed. (1996) Computer Law. 3rd. Blackstone
** Recommended Background
Patrick Burkinshaw. (1996) Freedom of Information, the law, the practice and the ideal. 2nd.