Since the 1940s, when the computer first made its appearance, there has
been a tremendous change in both the power and the extent of IT technology.
It has evolved from mainframes through personal computers with
packaged applications and client–server architectures, to the explosion of
networking in the 1990s which led to the internet. Currently the IT industry
is facing the challenges of mobile computing. Since each stage was incremental,
the current state of IT technology is complex and requires considerable
Nowhere is this more important than the area of the law which applies to
IT technology. The changes in technology have driven changes in IT law
and contracting. We have come from what was a relatively scarce technology,
supplied by experts to experts and used by experts, to a ubiquitous
technology supplied through many different channels and used by everybody
in their everyday life at home and at work. In terms of procurement,
we have moved from the very close links between a few IT vendors and a
few large IT departments to a situation where this technology is procured
and supplied in many ways by many different purchasers. Given these
changes, it is important that the people who purchase and use IT technology
in the current environment are aware of the basic outline of the law
which applies to computers and its implications for the businesses that
they run or are engaged in advising.
This book sets out to provide executives with a basic framework of understanding
across all of the main topic areas. It requires no special knowledge
of the law but is designed to point out to people without legal qualifications
the best practice, opportunities and pitfalls when dealing with the acquisition
and use of the computer technology they require in order to stay competitive
in their businesses.
Thus the main purpose of this book is to alert business people to the situations
and circumstances in which they need to consult lawyers, not to
create legal experts. In my experience, many problems in IT contracting
could have been avoided if the people involved had had earlier input from
their legal advisers. This requires not only that legal advisers be proactive
but also that business people understand about using their services and be
willing to do so.