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Technology And The Law Essay

1602 words - 7 pages

In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, new forms of technology along with recent case law and legislation has highlighted the profound shortcomings of Australian law in effectively keeping pace with breaches in copyright and issues of privacy. In considering the effectiveness of the law in relation to its protection of individual rights, there is a need to evaluate the law’s ability in enforcing privacy and copyright legislation; responding proactively to the issues created by new technology; and ultimately, whether or not justice has been achieved for individuals. Thus, it is evident that the law has presently failed to address new technology at the expense of individual rights. ...view middle of the document...

The same right to privacy implicitly granted in the US constitution and bill of rights by case law in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Australia’s lack of a formal bill of rights is contrasted to the US Court system’s successful enforcement of privacy rights. From this it can be seen that while the law has struggled to exercise its jurisdiction outside of national boundaries, it is doing what it can to amend miscarriages of justice and bring issues of privacy to the forefront of law reform mechanisms. Thus the law has done what it can to act in the best interest of individuals and societies rights.

The difficulties in enforcement and the international nature of the internet has acted as a medium for the development of online file sharing programs, allowing for software to be distributed easily, infringing on the individual’s intellectual property rights. Developers have the right to publish their ideas and hence earn a profit from it. Due to this, the law’s enforceability of one’s intellectual property rights is paramount in preventing the loss of individual rights. However, when national boundaries are crossed, the law is unable to exercise its authority. The case law from United States of America v. O’Dwyer (2012) saw the United States Justice Department attempt to extradite to America, the owner of a TV streaming search engine based in Britain under American charges, despite the site being legal in the UK. The controversy arising from the issue was centred on the fact that the US Courts had no jurisdiction over the British based site and could not lawfully extradite him for trial in the US. Nonetheless the site did contain links to streaming sites that infringed on the copyright of TV show developers; but the extradition order was later dropped. This case law highlights the difficulties regarding enforcement of digital copyright laws in achieving fair outcomes, specifically for the developers of the TV programs. The law’s failure to keep up with advancements in file sharing programs remains as evidence for the failure in the legal system’s responsibility to protect individual rights.

The law’s responsiveness to technological change is a valid measure of its ability in protecting individual rights to privacy and its capacity in keeping pace with advancements on the internet. The Australian legal system has taken proactive steps in establishing relevant privacy legislation and thus doing what it can to protect individual privacy as seen in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1988 (NSW) However based on the ruling of the 1937 high court case in Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v. Taylor there is currently no general statutory tort for breach of privacy. This absence of general privacy entitlements is behind other common law countries such as Canada and has highlighted the delayed response of Australian law in providing an adequate framework for the protection of individual...

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