Other Legal Considerations

The four areas of law discussed above are amongst the most heavily litigated for cases involving Internet-related issues. But by no means are they the exclusive and definitive source for Web jurisprudence. Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, Internet law and regulation can be nearly as inclusive and encompassing as the entire corpus of all U. S. law. If a Web site fails to accommodate a blind person with voice-recognition software, handicapped users might have a claim for disability discrimination. If another Web site entices users to visit it and then preaches anti-race and anti-gender sentiments, visitors may have a claim under relevant harassment or hate speech laws. Stockowners desiring to trade shares over the Internet will need to determine what disclosure rules they must comply with before consummating a deal. Consumers living in one state and buying goods over the Internet in another state should be aware of applicable sales taxes in both jurisdictions. Protestors condemning a foreign government’s behavior on an Internet message board might want to consider if they are in violation of foreign or international laws by doing so.

But the biggest challenge facing the future of Internet regulation may come from random attacks by computer viruses and worms unleashed by Web terrorists. The increase of virus outbreaks over the past two years has been highlighted by the widespread recognition they have received. “SirCam,” “Melissa,” and “Love Bug” are just three widely known viruses that experts estimate to have caused more than a billion dollars in damage worldwide. Security breaches by hackers cost U. S. companies another $10 billion every year. Private companies, government agencies, and academic institutions invest millions more in developing technology and educating their employees to protect their computer systems from these dangers. Nonetheless, the dangers persist. As a result, many federal lawmakers have urged changing the focus from preventing the spread of worms and viruses to developing effective means of identifying the individuals who have released them and then punishing those individuals severely enough to deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

Inside Other Legal Considerations