Computer law is increasingly becoming an important area in the fields of legal as well as information technology (IT). Computer law affects corporations and professionals positively and negatively, but the advantages of effective and strict computer laws are important in ensuring the security of the computer systems, data, individuals, and organizations (Whitman & Mattord, 2012).
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In the US, statutes and case laws are used to decriminalize or criminalize various activities involving the use of computer systems and information. The computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is the statute with the broadest impact on information technology and management. Enacted in 1986, the statute aims at criminalizing the hacking of computer systems (Whitman & Mattord, 2012). However, it has undergone several amendments such as the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act (1994), the Patriotic Act (2001), and the Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act (2006). These statutes affect individuals and companies in a positive manner. It protects professionals in information technology from hacking, which might lead to destruction, loss, or leakage of information. In addition, it helps organizations to maintain the integrity of their information, including business secrets and other crucial information required in management (Harrington, 2009).
In the US, the Privacy Act of 1974 is an example of some of the most effective legislation that affects professionals and organizations. According to this statute, government agencies must show individuals the information recorded about them. Secondly, agencies must follow fair information practices when they are gathering and handling information about individuals (Whitman & Mattord, 2012). Thirdly, it ensures that restrictions are placed on the processes of sharing data of an individual between or within organizations, finally, it allows individuals and organizations to sue the authorities if their rights to information protection are violated (Harrington, 2009).
The Electronic Communication Privacy Act (1986) seeks to regulate communications through the mouth (oral), wire, and electronic methods. It affects professionals and organizations because it criminalizes forceful and unwarranted seizure and search of information in computer systems (Harrington, 2009). Therefore, it protects the integrity and privacy of information systems for IT professionals and organizations.
Case laws also play an important role in regulating information technology and computer systems. For instance, the ACLU v Zell Miller establishes the right to privacy for the users of internet technology. In addition, it guarantees the basic rights of organizations and individuals using internet technology (Harrington, 2009).
The Bourke v. Nissan Motor Corp establishes the right of organizations to monitor the emails of their employees or terminate an employee’s use of personal or sexual information through the company’s computer system. It affects organizations in a positive manner, but it may have negative impacts on professionals within an organization because they do not have the privacy of their communication.
To improve personal privacy, a number of approaches are applicable. For instance, the use of authorization systems such as a unique user ‘login’ and password are important approaches. They help individuals and companies protect personal information because unauthorized individuals cannot access information. However, they have disadvantages such as loss of crucial information when the user forgets the authentication details or dies or leave the company without disclosing the information to another part (Whitman & Mattord, 2012).
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Digital signature legislations are important in the protection of the digital signatures when developing and signing contracts through electronic media. They protect the authenticity of documents and digital messages. They ensure that the privacy of software, financial and other records are protected when under electronic transaction.
Harrington, S. J. (2009). The Effects of Codes of Ethics and Personal Denial of Responsibility on Computer Abuse Judgment and Intentions. MIS Quarterly 20(3), 257-278.
Whitman, M., & Mattord, H. (2012). Readings & Cases in Information Security: Law & Ethics. Mason, OH: Cengage.