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Law in an Era of “Smart” Technology$
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Susan W. Brenner

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333480

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333480.001.0001

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Law and Consumer Technology

Law and Consumer Technology

(p.75) CHAPTER 5 Law and Consumer Technology
Law in an Era of “Smart” Technology

Susan W. Brenner

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with consumer technology — technologies available to non-specialists. It explains why lawmakers applied the approach they employed for specialist technologies to deal with a new problem: “misusing” technology. “Misuse” had not been a problem because specialists' ability to misuse a technology is constrained by their training and the collaborative context in which they implement a technology. The first misuse lawmakers addressed was harassing telephone calls — a new phenomenon produced by new technology. Lawmakers adopted context-specific misuse rules that applied when one “used” the technology at issue. The result was telephone harassment rules, which were fine until computers began to be employed to harass others. Lawmakers tended to respond by adding computer harassment rules to telephone harassment rules. Instead of focusing on the underlying harm — harassment — they focused on the technology.

Keywords:   computer, automobile, telephone, radio, television, cinema

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