Meeting Time:Wed 2-4pm 202 South Hall
InstructorAssistant Professor Deirdre K. Mulligan (
Office HoursMon 2-4 212 South Hall
TAsNick Rabinowitz ()
Travis Pinnick ()
Course Blog


This course is divided into three sections that correspond to information and law and policy issues iSchool students are likely to face in their role as individuals, as designers and developers, and as employees in an information society.

It begins the exploration from the largest lens: what policy and legal issues arise from the use of information and communication technologies to facilitate and mediate interactions between and among individuals, individuals and corporations and individuals and the government. As a reporter at the Washington Post once aptly wrote, "Because the global computer network known as the Internet isn't just a communications medium for swapping e-mail and surfing Web sites. It has become a new battleground for refighting the wars that shape our culture: society's attitudes toward sex and obscenity, libel, search and seizure, patent and copyright law, gambling, personal privacy and more." As technology becomes more deeply and richly embedded in our personal, political, civic, social and marketplace activities the things it enables, disables, makes visible and invisible force society to revisit policy choices, rethink laws and explore the goals that motivate them. This is where we start.

The second section of the class looks more specifically at the way in which existing laws and policy considerations influence the design space in which information technologists and researchers work: the law informs, enables and constrains in significant ways. This section aims to provide you with some working, practical knowledge about evolving law, policy and norms to assist you in thinking through legal and policy issues in your current and future work.

Finally, being in the information technology workforce &emdash; whether its in the corporate, non-profit, governmental or academic sector &emdash; brings you into direct daily contact with a set of laws and policies around intellectual property, privacy, and security that affect you personally. The final section of the class is designed to increase your awareness of your rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

In addition, throughout the syllabus you'll find a set of optional readings that provide additional information to support two goals. First, for those of you who want to know more about the law and legal institutions, due to a lack of familiarity with U.S. laws and institutions that will dominate much of the class or due to a desire to dig deeper, there are readings about how the law is made, interpreted and contested predominantly focused on the U.S. Second, for those of you who desire to ground our conversations in theory, in places throughout the syllabus you'll find additional readings that will provide a fuller understanding of the underlying legal, policy and/or ethical considerations and theories. These readings are optional. Depending upon your final class assignment you may want to consider the optional readings that relate to your topic as recommended because they should provide one launching point, although certainly not the only, for your project.


Your grade is based on class participation and four written assignments.

Class participation accounts for 20% of your grade. It includes your oral participation in class discussion as well as participation on the class listserv and/or blog. While I expect you to have completed all the readings prior to class sessions, on one day you will be asked to be particularly well prepared and to post some reflections on the readings prior to class.