Article Title

Computers and the Law: The Impact of Technology on Prevailing Legal Principles


Publication Title

Washington University Law Quarterly


Computers present difficult problems for the legal system. Because the subject matter is technically complex, many lawyers regard computer law as an esoteric, highly specialized area in which only the prescient and foolhardy dare enter. The authors in this section vigorously dispute this assumption. They suggest that the real problems presented by computers in our society—i.e., the invasions of privacy and absence of accountability of computer designers and users-result from the legal profession’s failure to direct computer development. When lawyers become knowledgeable in the fundamentals of computer technology, they will realize that traditional legal principles are sufficiently flexible to accommodate it. Only then will the legal profession be able to reflect upon the nature of the computer, consider its role in society, and determine the appropriate legal norms and institutions to control its development. In the following four Articles, the authors urge lawyers to undertake this exciting, essential work and suggest some preliminary steps in this effort.