The Internet: an introduction for lawyers
Given the intense media coverage that the Internet has attracted over the past few years, one might reasonably argue that the Internet needs no introduction. It has successfully permeated into our everyday lives in a myriad of ways. Every parent must now feel the obligation to ensure that their child has access to the Internet as part of their overall education. Similarly, no advertising campaign is now complete without reference to a Web site and if you want to know something about an unknown organisation (whether company, University or law firm), the first thing you do is look up their Web site. Over the past few years, most Internet users have ceased worrying about what the Internet is and how it works and have begun to treat it more like the telephone – a convenient appliance for certain tasks. But at the same time, the Internet is becoming an increasingly complex place. There are an ever-increasing number of different terms that are being used in Internet circles – not only do we have e-mail, we now have e-anything e.g. e-commerce, e-business, e-journals, esolutions and not just the Internet but intranets and extranets as well. Meanwhile the digirati are dreaming up ever more obscure terms of art – channels, clickstream and enterprise information portals to name but a few of the current buzzwords. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part is designed to explain a little of how the Internet works, both in terms of the technology and the administration. In the second part, the main legal issues relating to the Internet are addressed. This second part of this chapter is intended to set the stage for the remainder of this book.