The explosion of technological advances in business creates many benefits for businesses and consumers.
Technology also helps any business reach a broad audience.
Thanks to technology, checking account balances, reaching out to a friend across the world, and making purchases are now more convenient than ever. However, the use of these modern conveniences brings questions regarding limitations of privacy, protection, and innovation.
The fast-paced field of technology law governs this acquisition of private information, protection of ideas, and new platforms emerging in the ever-evolving world of technological advances.
What Are the Focuses of Technology Law?
Technology law mainly focuses on the following categories.
Intellectual property rights are an area within the field of technology law focusing on intangible property like patents, ideas, copyrights, and trade secrets.
Intellectual property rights determine how patents, ideas, copyrights, and trade secrets are disseminated, along with how profits are divided amongst parties.
One of the main focuses of technology law centers on the gathering, storing, disseminating, and using of information acquired through the use of technology.
This area of technology law includes consumer privacy, cybercrime, and government surveillance.
Digital Media and Entertainment
Digital entertainment in technology law encompasses the world of gaming and how technology laws impact the use of gaming. Digital media includes the use of social networking sites, online distribution channels, and streaming services for music, television, and movies.
This fast-paced field within technology law is continuously changing as new platforms offer new services for consumers.
Software licensing focuses on the innovation of computer software. A software license governs the use and redistribution of software. Upon purchasing computer software, a consumer must agree to certain conditions before gaining permission for its use.
The license agreement provides detailed information about copying, modifying, or redistributing the software. A software license will also govern the areas of software updates, troubleshooting, and warranties related to the software.
What Is a Technology Lawyer?
Technology lawyers focus their practice on laws governing the field of technology and its uses within the government sector and the private sector.
Technology attorneys in the government sector help to draft, create, and enforce technology laws on a federal and state level. Technology law in the government sector focuses on privacy rights and intellectual property.
Private-sector technology lawyers are those that help businesses understand and plan for any technological issues that may arise. Technology lawyers also counsel companies on the rights and obligations existing at the state and federal level when using technology.
These rights and obligations specifically concern the privacy of information acquired from customers and individuals using the services and products of these private companies.
Sources of Technology Law
The majority of technology law is governed in the United States by federal laws, though state and international laws may apply as well.
Federal Technology Law
Federal regulations dictate how companies may use and disseminate any information acquired through technology. Federal laws also dictate how the government itself may use, store, and distribute information obtained through technology.
Federal technology legislation that impacts information acquired through technology includes the following acts.
Privacy Act of 1974
The Privacy Act of 1974 established a code governing the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information stored by federal agencies.
It provides individuals with the right to request their records, request changes in records if the information is not accurate, and protection against invasion of privacy from the collection, maintenance, use, and storing of personal information.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
This act establishes a code for physical and electrical surveillance in addition to the collection of foreign information.
This act controls the information collected by financial institutions and requires those financial institutions to disclose to consumers where the information is stored, how it is acquired, and how it is used.
Homeland Security Act of 2002
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 was established in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Act establishes a group of departments, including the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD). The mission of the department is to collaborate with private, government, military, and intelligence shareholders to calculate risks and reduce threats to civilians and government operations.
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act established many facets of information gathering within the intelligence community.
Regarding technology law, the Act ensures that the use of technologies does not compromise privacy protections related to gathering, disseminating, and storing personal information.
State Technology Laws
State laws also govern areas of technology law, specifically within criminal and civil law. For example, many states have laws that prohibit the use of a computer to commit a crime.
Additionally, some states have incorporated laws banning the use of computers to intimidate or harass another person. Improper access and use of credit cards or financial information are examples of other laws that states have incorporated to protect individuals.
State laws are also consistently toeing the line between state regulations and constitutional issues as use of speech on electronic platforms, which potentially implicates First Amendment rights, continues to increase.
International Technology Law
International laws also come into play to govern the borderless capabilities of technology. Drafting and implementing international treaties and agreements governing technology use require cooperation and collaboration between foreign governments and foreign companies.
Emerging Technology Law Sectors
The possibilities for technological advances are essentially endless. There are several emerging technology sectors that already require or will require specialized tech attorneys to keep up with ongoing regulatory developments.
There are a number of growing companies in the artificial intelligence space, and they stretch across multiple industries. This type of tech is generally used to improve operational systems for consumers and is being increasingly integrated into sectors of government, finance, healthcare, and more.
Cybersecurity falls under the privacy category and can include everything from online banking to eCommerce and social media. As companies find new ways to gather consumer information for advertising and other purposes, this sector of technology law will continue to expand and become increasingly specialized.
Unlike conventional currency, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is not uniformly regulated in all jurisdictions. Despite a lack of regulations, a number of financial institutions and tech giants have begun creating their own in-house cryptocurrency. This is a point where finance lawyers and tech lawyers will surely converge.
Self-driving cars are revolutionizing the way people get from point A to point B. Currently, only a few states have regulations for this new technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued general guidelines but does not have the authority to control how individual states regulate autonomous vehicles.
Complexities of Technology Law
Adhering to regulations in a largely unregulated sector can be challenging. Taking your best guess is not an ideal option when your company or intellectual property could be on the line.
Because of the relative newness of technology law, there are still a lot of grey areas, especially when documentation is lacking. It is important to keep accurate records of everything that has to do with technology creation and design, including timelines.
Issues of intellectual technical property become complicated when one or both parties place an equal value on the tech or trademark in question. It is not uncommon for the technological value to exceed the offered monetary value to settle. This can be an emotional response to the hard work both parties have put into the creation of the technology.
One big concern is that technology often moves faster than the law. Statues are being created as issues arise and responses can vary across jurisdictions. In the interim, as laws are created, an experienced technology attorney may be crucial.
Do You Need a Technology Lawyer?
In the rapidly evolving world of technology law, it can be easy to be left behind. For a business, proper collection, storing, and disseminating of any private customer information is complicated and fast-paced.
It is easy to make costly mistakes in the world of technology, and it’s crucial to keep up with changing laws and regulations. In the best interest of your company, it is important to have a technology attorney who is knowledgeable about your specialized industry.
One of the biggest benefits of working with tech lawyers is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone is looking out for your best interest. With new companies emerging every day, competition is fierce. Securing counsel from a technology attorney allows you to focus on what you do best without costly distraction.
A technology attorney is an important piece of any tech-centric business, from the formation of partnership agreements to patents, trademarks, and regulatory checks. The need for legal counsel becomes crucial if you are facing a claim against your business or filing one against someone else. You can be sure the other party in your legal dispute is not going it alone.
BrewerLong is a Florida business firm specializing in helping small to medium businesses in the field of technology law.
BrewerLong focuses on intellectual property protection and licensing, as well as serving as general counsel for various technology and information technology companies. Contact BrewerLong to speak with an experienced technology lawyer today!