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April 10, 2008


Richard Best

Hi Professor

If I may say, great post! I couldn't agree with you more.

I'm a legal advisor to the New Zealand State Services Commission's All-of-government Authentication Programme (and also advise other parts of the wider ICT Branch fairly regularly) through which I can see precisely how legal constructs, principles and environments can both inform and influence technology design and how, to ignore legal principle at the design stage, is likely to be a mistake. As you obviously appreciate, law can not only suggest that certain designs would be inappropriate, likely to run foul of the law or at least create issues for users, but can also encourage designs that respect or promote the public's rights and interests.

I'm due shortly to present a paper on Social media and the law. Probably a quarter of the issues I'll be discussing are legal constructs and principles which need to be addressed at the design stage, if not earlier, of a social media site. To consider them only after the web designer has done his or her work or shortly before launch is, I suggest, a recipe for non-compliance with governing law or (in the public sector) governmental mandate or policy.

As you'll appreciate, lawyers cannot always understand these issues without getting their hands dirty with the technologies on which they're advising. In my case, I have only thought of some of the legal issues that can arise in designing social media sites through my own development of them (e.g., InsideoutLegal at www.insideoutlegal.co.nz).

Ultimately then, and for two reasons, I think an understanding of design and technology are highly relevant to lawyers advising in the technological space. First, because some such knowledge helps lawyers get involved in and positively influence design decisions. Second, because in the absence of such knowledge, lawyers may simply not see the practical implications of their advice. A good example of that is the provision of advice regarding online objectionable content that may have worked well in Web 1.0 days but which could well backfire in the days of Web 2.0, where blogging and other online technologies and cultures need to be understood.

Anyway, thanks again for the post. Happy to share my presentation with you if you wish.

Kind regards

טיפים לאיפור

Although the law a central role in the regulation of social relations that create the conditions for freedom and human development, engineering design widely considered part of computer scientists, engineers and interface designers.

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