Internet Newsletter for Lawyers

2021 is emerging as the year of hope. News of effective Covid vaccines, the promise of the US actively participating in the fight against climate change and the prospect of an overall less dramatic year than 2020 are all reasons to be optimistic. But 2021 will bring its own challenges and in the area of data protection, those challenges are not insubstantial. Much work lies ahead to resolve many of the complex issues that the current year has created, which will be the focus of the privacy, data protection and cybersecurity professionals’ efforts in 2021. Here is a select list…
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical, decentralised naming system for computers, services and other resources connected to the internet. It translates domain names (like yourfirm.com) to the numerical IP addresses needed for locating and identifying computer services and devices with the underlying network protocols (like 95.232.149.44). The DNS provides a worldwide, distributed directory service and is essential to the functionality of the internet. Administration of namespaces The DNS address space is managed globally by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) which also administers IP addresses. IANA is a department of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers…
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. This glossary explains all the terms relevant to that practice and more generally to website development. There are many more useful articles on these topics on the Hallam Blog. 301 Redirect – A web server function where an old web page address or URL is redirected to a new one. A bit like redirecting mail when you move house but on a permanent basis. A 301 Redirect is a “permanent” redirection status indicating that the page…
Although the internet was born out of a military research project, many of its original advocates touted its democratic potential to provide a platform for free exchange of ideas and creativity. But there were always voices of warning that the mass connectivity resulting from a global network could lead to something more Orwellian. The creeping commercialisation and politicisation of the internet has led to many Big Brother moments over the last couple of decades, but it wasn’t until the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in 2018 that the public became aware of the true extent of manipulation of individuals online facilitated…
Most would agree that it has been a year that feels like it was drawn from the storyline of a particularly lurid B-movie. Even by those standards, though, the comment “I am afraid your grades were almost derailed by a mutant algorithm” was one that stood out, painting a picture of Britain’s youth falling victim to some out of control, unaccountable, technological mystery. Algorithms of course will not be mysterious to the regular readers of this newsletter. They are an increasingly ubiquitous part of the discussion around technology and the law (see eg my article in the March 2019 issue
For most law firms time recording constructs and the idea of annual billable hours have always meant that “productivity” could be monitored. Any of the managing partner’s typical calls to action of “you’re not billing enough” or “your time recording is down” can be justified where fee-earners have to account for every minute. Even if time recording tools are blunt instruments which do not necessarily provide accurate indications of valuable, usable output, they provide a metric against which a lawyer’s annual hours and salary are based. So, an obvious next step for a law firm might be to install a…
The government published its Online Harms White Paper in April 2019, which set out a range of proposals to reduce illegal and harmful online activity. An initial consultation response was published in February 2020, with a full response expected before the end of the year and potential legislation coming in early 2021. Meanwhile, the Law Commission is running a related consultation on reform to the existing communication offences legislation, with a view to updating criminal law to better “protect victims from harmful online behaviour including abusive messages, cyber-flashing, pile-on harassment, and the malicious sharing of information known to be false.”…
Back in June, I wrote about the long delayed COVID-19 app, which was supposed to form a key part of the contact tracing system, famously hailed by Boris as “world beating”. The app was eventually launched on 24 September and has, according to government figures, been downloaded almost 20 million times. Although two million people have been ‘reached’ by the NHS Test and Trace service, it is not known how many of these are due to the app. However, despite getting a very high number of downloads compared to equivalent apps in other European countries (notably France which only…
FutureLearn FutureLearn provide structured online learning courses in partnership with hundreds of universities and other bodies. These cover all subject areas and range from short courses, through professional accreditation programmes, to university degrees. Courses are divided into “weeks” of prescribed activities. You can learn by watching videos, listening to audio and reading articles. Many of these steps are followed by short quizzes to help you check that you have understood. They may be started at any time after they are published (and can be done to any timescale) and are free to access for their duration plus 14 days, regardless…
The Internet Newsletter for Lawyers was launched in the late 90s as there was at that time a thirst for guidance on what this new thing called the internet was and what it could offer the lawyer. Today we all take the internet for granted and few concern ourselves with what it actually is, even fewer how it works. In fact a 2019 survey by HighSpeedInternet.com found that, although 86 per cent of respondents said they understood what the internet was, in fact only two-thirds of those gave a reasonable answer; in other words half those questioned did not understand.…
In July 2020, the Law Society Gazette reported that legal industry revenue had dropped to a four year low. With everything else on the decline, this is no surprise. However, not all of the trends initiated by Covid-19 are negative – and some are giving the legal industry a much needed boost, one of which is online reviews. Transforming professional services Online reviews have taken the world of professional services by storm over the last decade. With more and more of us relying on the internet to hold all of the answers, it’s unlikely we’ll make any kind of decision…
The Court of Appeal recently handed down its decision in the case of R v Bridges [2020] EWCA Civ 1058, the first case of its kind in the world dealing with law enforcement use of live facial recognition.  Live automated facial recognition (AFR) is a technology that is overlaid onto facial images in real time. The technology captures biometric features of a face to confirm the identity of an individual by matching the image with a base set of images. The use of AFR by law enforcement globally is increasingly common and has attracted controversy primarily because of the…
Constantly working on branding and IP projects means that I’m always coming up with new ideas on what I can offer clients to help them get more from my service. One example of this is my newest product and forthcoming book, provisionally called Brand Tuned – How to Create an Inimitable Brand to Win Business in a Noisy World. However, one niche that always seems to be hit or miss for people when it comes to return on investment is social media. That’s not to say, I haven’t had some major successes personally, but, on other occasions, a piece of…
The gig economy has garnered heavy criticism since it became an integral part of the world of work over the past decade or so. On the one hand it has been credited with providing flexible work for millions of people unable or unwilling to secure full time employment. On the other hand, it has been likened to a modern form of slavery, with the tech giants as the masters of an online version of Victorian workhouses. What is the gig economy? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the gig economy is: “A labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term…
Currently, each social media platform has its own set of policies regarding what kind of content can be published by its users. Since many politicians are now heavily reliant on these platforms to bolster their support and reach out to new voters, the ability for the big tech deities such as Zuckerberg to decide on the political discourse which can or can’t take place on their networks is highly significant for democracy. Facebook, Twitter et al, may claim to be agnostic platforms rather than publishers, but the reality is that they are de facto gatekeepers of political (and social) debate.…
There have been a couple of interesting developments recently relating to apps on the Apple and Google app stores, both of which potentially threaten self regulation of these platforms. Fortnite sues Apple and Google Epic Games, the publisher behind hit computer game Fortnite, is taking legal action against both the Apple and Google app stores. The app version of Fortnite was removed by both tech giants from their respective stores, as a result of an alleged breach of their policies. Apple and Google charge app developers 30% in respect of any purchases made on their stores. As well as charging…