Information Technology and the Law

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Orla Lynskey

Additional Teachers: Professor Andrew Murray


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BSc in Business Mathematics and Statistics, BSc in Statistics with Finance and LLB in Laws. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available to General Course students.

This course is available to LLB and Law and Anthropology students. It is also available as an outside option to students in other departments and to General Course Students. Students from other Universities should contact the course convenor regarding participation in this course.   


This course does not require an in-depth understanding of contemporary computer technology – we are primarily interested in the implications of the use of information technology, and the intended and unintended consequences of regulating that use. 

Course content

This survey course enables students to assess critically a selection of fundamental legal issues in the field of Information Technology (IT) Law. It begins by introducing students to key debates in IT and internet governance: do we need distinct legal rules to regulate IT? Who does, and should, control the internet? Should the internet be a ‘neutral’ network? Once students are equipped with this knowledge of internet governance and the challenges this poses for the law, we consider how the law has responded to the challenges of IT and the extent to which legal issues have shaped the development of information society policy. This will be done through a detailed examination of topics such as online data protection, computer misuse and hacking, freedom of expression and the protection of intellectual property.

The focus will be initially on English law, although the global nature of IT law means that there are already strong EU and US legal influences upon the English system. Therefore, comparative aspects will be introduced in places, and readings will include materials drawn from, amongst others, US law journals.

This course does not require an in-depth understanding of contemporary computer technology – we are primarily interested in the legal implications of the use of IT, and the intended and unintended consequences of regulating that use.

Aims and Objectives: At the end of the course, students should be able to:

• Critically evaluate ongoing developments in law relating to IT;

• Display an understanding of how these developments relate to one another;

• Examine areas of doctrinal and political debate surrounding rules and theories;

• Evaluate those rules and theories in terms of internal coherence and practical outcomes;

• Draw on the analysis and evaluation contained in primary and secondary sources.

Indicative Content: For a more detailed outline of the syllabus visit the course’s Moodle page.

Part I: Internet Governance

• An Introduction to IT Law

• Digitisation and the Information Society

• Regulating the Digital Environment

• Net Neutrality

Part II: Data Protection and ePrivacy

• Introduction to Data Protection

• Data Protection Rights and Obligations (The GDPR)

• Data Protection and Social Media Platforms

• State Surveillance and Communications Interception

Part III - Online Freedoms

• Cyber Speech and Free Expression online

• Cyber-defamation

• The Role of Tech Platforms in Regulating Rights

Part IV – Digital Culture and Intellectual Property Rights

• Copyright in the Digital Environment

• Digital Creatives and Copyright Law

• Trade Marks and Domain Names

Part V – Computer Crime

• Computer Misuse

• Obscenity and Pornography the Information Society

• Predictive Policing and Algorithmic Profiling

Part VI – Ecommerce

• The Emergent Legal Issues of the Sharing Economy

• Digital Payments and Cryptocurrency

• Contracts and Smart Contracts

The above is the provisional 2018/19 programme. Due to the fast changing nature of this subject changes may occur to the syllabus at any time.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Indicative reading

A.D. Murray: Information Technology Law: Law and Society 3rd ed (Oxford: OUP, 2016) (Recommended for purchase).

C. Reed (ed): Computer Law 7th ed (Oxford: OUP, 2012).

C. Reed: Making Laws for Cyberspace (Oxford: OUP, 2012).

I. Lloyd: Information Technology Law 8th ed (Oxford: OUP, 2017).

L. Lessig: Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace ver.2.0 (New York: Basic Books,2006).

Suggested Initial Reading:

Reed: Computer Law 7th ed., Introduction.

Murray: Information Technology Law: Law and Society 3rd ed, Ch.1.


Take home exam (60%) in the ST.
Continuous assessment (40%) in the MT and LT.

Five pieces will be submitted as part of a portfolio of work. The best four pieces will collectively make up 40% of the overall mark.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2017/18: 76

Average class size 2017/18: 15

Capped 2017/18: Yes (75)

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills