1. The Internet (upper case "I") is the largest internet (lower case "i") in the world. To understand the Internet, think of two computers that communicate with each other through a single cable (an internet). Perhaps this might be your personal computer connected by the cable to the personal computer of another student in your Internet Law class. Now connect millions of other computers all around the world to that cable so that each computer on the web of cabling can communicate with any other computer on that web (the Internet).
2. To improve on the communications, establish a single, major communication pipeway onto which each computer is connected. This connection would look similar to having a computer at the end of each rib in your body, where each rib (or cable) is attached to the same backbone. The Internet includes three or so backbone networks (including ARPANET) onto which local (stub) networks are connected through regional (mid-level) networks so as to create a network of networks. Your personal computer may be attached to a local network where this local network is attached to a regional network along with other local networks. In turn, this regional network is attached to a backbone along with other regional networks.
3. The Internet is an international network of interconnected computers that enables millions of people to communicate with one another in "cyberspace" through data transmissions and to access vast amounts of information from around the world. Like human beings, computers around the world speak different languages. Esperanto is an artificial international language with a vocabulary based on word roots common to many European languages that was designed to be the one spoken language of humans as they interact. HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is similar to Esperanto in that HTTP is designed to be the one spoken language of computers as they interact. To permit computers around the world to understand each other, the Internet uses certain standard procedures as a universal translator to regulate data transmission between computers. HyperText Transfer Protocol, which you may have seen in an address location such as http://www.findlaw.com/, is one of several standard procedures used on the Internet.
4. Like non-Internet based legal issues, Internet legal issues generally center around the intent of a person and the conduct of a person. Burglary might involve a person using a cane to reach through an open window to hook and retrieve another's purse. Burglary also might involve a computer user pushing a computer key button from the comfort of their home to send an electronic signal over the Internet to move a magnet that realigns an electronic recording medium used by a bank's computer so that the information recorded in the banks' computers now indicate that the computer user is a million dollars richer. Both engaged in nefarious conduct with presumably wrongful intents. Even though the means of these two crimes were centuries apart, the law burglary was and is capable of addressing both crimes. The difficulty in addressing a high tech computer crime is not due to a defective law or the level of knowledge of the law, but flows from the level of knowledge of technology being applying the law. In other words, existing laws are sufficient to address just about all legal issues on the Internet so long as the lawyers applying those laws work to improve their knowledge of the technology surrounding the Internet and the computers connected to the Internet.
B. INTERNET DETAILS
The physical connections of the Internet and the workings of the computers attached to the Internet are discussed below. Reference numbers are provided to help you follow the discussion.
Figure 1 below illustrates Internet 100. Internet 100 may include
client computer systems 108, 110, 112, and 114 and server computer system
118 coupled to World Wide Web (WWW) 102. A client computer system is computer
system that requests a service of another computer system (such as server
computer system 118). For example, a computer user may type in the web
page address www.findlaw.com at the client computer and press the enter
key to send a request for the www.findlaw.com web page. The server computer
holding the web page information for www.findlaw.com would send back the
requested web page.
Client access to World Wide Web 102 may be provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as ISP 104 and ISP 106. An Internet Service Provider is a company that provides other companies or individuals with access to, or presence on, the Internet. Most ISPs are also Internet Access Providers (IAPs) that furnish extra services such as help with design, creation and administration of a web page. Users on client computer systems, such as clients 108, 110, 112, and 114, may be unrestricted public members and may obtain access to World Wide Web 102 through Internet Service Providers, such as ISP 104 and ISP 106. Access to World Wide Web 102 may allow users of clients 108, 110, 112, and 114 to receive, view, and interact with Web pages. A web page is a document on World Wide Web 102 that may be presented individually to millions of computer users. These Web pages may be provided by Web server systems, such as Web server system 116. Web server system 116, like ISP 104 and ISP 106, may be considered to be "on" World Wide Web 102. Often, these Web server systems are provided by the ISPs themselves, such as ISP 104, although a computer system may be set up and connected to World Wide Web 102 as part of Internet 100 without that computer system being also an ISP.
Web server system 116 may be at least one computer system that operates as a server computer system and may be configured to operate with the protocols of World Wide Web 102 as part of Internet 100. Protocols are the universal translating languages of Internet 100. Optionally, Web server system 116 of Figure 1 may be part of an ISP that provides access to World Wide Web 102 client systems. Web server system 116 may be coupled to server computer system 118, where server computer system 118 itself may be coupled to other devices.
While two computer systems (116 and 118) are shown in Figure 1, Web server system 116 and server computer system 118 may be one computer system having different software components providing the Web server functionality and the server functionality provided by server computer system 118. This will be described further below in connection with Figure 2.
Internet symbiosis may be thought of as a close, prolonged association between two or more different Internet organisms of the same or different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member. ISP 104 may provide Internet symbiosis such as World Wide Web connectivity to client computer system 108 through modem interface 120. A modem is a communications device used to connect computers by a telephone line to Internet 100 through a modem interface. Modem interface 120 may be considered separate or apart from client computer system 108. In a similar fashion, ISP 106 may provide Internet symbiosis for client computer systems 110, 112, and 114.
Although client computer systems 110, 112, and 114 may be in relationships of mutual benefit with or dependence upon World Wide Web 102 similar to client computer system 108, the connections need not be the same for client computer systems 110, 112, and 114 as shown in Figure 1. Client computer system 110 may be attached through modem interface 122 while client computer systems 112 and 114 may be part of a Local Area Network (LAN). A LAN is a data communications network that may be geographically limited to adjacent buildings so as to cover only a small area. The LAN may include network interfaces 124 and 126, LAN connections 128, and gateway computer system 130. Client computer systems 112 and 114 may be coupled to LAN connections 128 through network interfaces 124 and 126.
A firewall is a security scheme that prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to a computer network or that monitor transfers of information to and from the network. To provide firewall and other Internet related services for the local area network, LAN connections 128 may be further attached to gateway computer system 130. Gateway computer system 130, in turn, may be coupled to ISP 106 to provide Internet symbiosis to the client computer systems 112 and 114.
Client computer systems 108, 110, 112, and 114 may each view Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) pages or other digital media provided by the Web server system 116 when provided with the appropriate Web browsing software. These client computer systems may be a personal computer system, a network computer, a WebTV system, a wireless system, or other network enabled computing device. Moreover, gateway computer system 130 may be, for example, a conventional server computer system. Also, Web server system 116 may be a conventional server computer system. And, although Figure 1 shows interfaces 120 and 122 as "modems," each of these interfaces may be an analog modem, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) modem, cable modem, cellular or other wireless interface, satellite transmission interface (for example, "DirectPC"), or other interface for coupling a computer system to other computer systems.
Figure 2 below shows one example of conventional
computer system 200. Computer system 200 may be used, for example, as client
computer systems 108, 110, 112, and 114, Web server system 116, or server
computer system 118 of Figure 1. Such a computer system may be used
to perform many of the functions of an Internet Service Provider, such
as ISP 104 or ISP 106.
Computer system 200 may interface with external systems through the modem or network interface 202. Modem or network interface 202 may be considered to be part of computer system 200 and may be an analog ISDN or cable modem, Ethernet or Token Ring interface, wireless or infrared transceiver, satellite transmission interface (for example, "DirectPC"), or other interface for coupling a computer system to other computer systems. Computer system 200 may include processor 204. Processor 204 may be thought of as a central processing unit (CPU). Moreover, processor 204 may be a conventional microprocessor such as an Intel Pentium microprocessor or Motorola PowerPC microprocessor or may be a large, central processing unit as found in International Business Machine (IBM) mainframes. Memory 206 may be coupled to processor 204 through system bus 208. System bus 208 also may couple mass storage 210, display controller 212, and input/output (I/O) controller 214 to processor 204 and memory 206, as well as to each other. Computer system 200 alternatively may couple mass storage 210 as a memory and modem or network interface 202 to system bus 208 via I/O controller 214 such that mass storage 210 and modem or network interface 202 may be part of I/O devices 218.
Memory 206 may be dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and may also include static RAM (SRAM) and read-only memory (ROM). Within memory 206 may be executable programs 207. Memory 206 may be a distributed readable storage medium containing executable computer program instructions which, when executed, cause a server computer system to distribute a web page to a client computer system.
Display controller 212 may control in the conventional manner a display on a display device 216. Display device 216 may be a cathode ray tube (CRT), liquid crystal display, or other display. Display device 216 may be referred to as a monitor. A monitor may be viewed as a device connected to the video output of a computer that permits a person to interact with the central processing unit through visual images. The visual images that are presented on a computer monitor to a computer user generally include display streams of data and overlay streams of data. An electronic gun may be swept rapidly back and forth across the screen of a monitor to activate individual pixels of the screen according to the data stream. This data is known to the engine of the electronic gun at its virtual memory address but is stored in the physical memory of the platform at a physical memory address.
The input/output (I/O) devices 218 may be coupled to I/O controller 214 and may include keyboard 222, disk drives, printers, a scanner, and other input or output devices, including mouse 224 or other pointing device. Display controller 212 and I/O controller 214 may be implemented with conventional, well-known technology. Digital image input device 220 may be a digital camera coupled to I/O controller 214 to allow images from the digital camera to be input into computer system 200. Mass storage 210 may be a magnetic hard disk, an optical disk, or another form of storage for large amounts of data. Some of this data may be written into memory 206 by a direct memory access process during execution of software in computer system 200.
Storage of data on a magnetic disk entails magnetizing portions of the disk in a pattern which represents the data. To magnetize the disk, a small ceramic block which contains a magnetic transducer known as a "write element" is passed over the surface of the disk. More specifically, the write element is flown at a height of approximately six-millionth of an inch from the surface of the disk over the track. The write element is energized by electricity to various states, causing the track below to be magnetized to represent the data to be stored. By controlling this electricity, a person's actions control the movement of the magnetic medium. To retrieve data stored on a magnetic disk, a read element is flown over the disk to detect the magnetized pattern on one of the tracks of a disk. The magnetized portions of the disk provide a signal to the read element. By looking at output from the read element, data can be reconstructed and then be used by the computer system.
Computer system 200 may be one example of many possible computer systems that have different architectures. For example, personal computer systems often have multiple buses, one of which may be considered to be a peripheral bus. Network computers may also be considered to be a computer system that may be used with the present invention. Network computers need not include a hard disk or other mass storage while executable programs 207 may be loaded from a network connection into memory 206 for execution by processor 204. A WebTV system or other embedded computing device may be considered to be a computer system, even though it excludes certain features shown in Figure 2, such as certain input or output devices.
A computer system may include at least a processor, memory, and a bus coupling the memory to the processor. Operating system software that may control computer system 200 may include a file management system, such as a disk operating system, which may be part of the operating system software. The file management system may be stored in mass storage 210 and causes processor 204 to execute the various operations required by the operating system to input or output data and to store data in memory, including storing files on mass storage 210.
In operation, computer system 200, acting as server computer system 118 through an application program 207, may place web pages 150 of Figure 1 at the disposal of client computer systems 108, 110, 112, and/or 114. Pages 150 preferably are originated by executable programs 207 of Figure 2. Processor 204 may generate pages 150 as files containing at least one device for entry or selection of at least one of user identification or password using a browser at client computer systems 108, 110, 112, and/or 114. Processor 204 may then transmit these files through the network of Internet 100 to client computer systems 108, 110, 112, and/or 114 illustrated in Figure 1.
The logical operations required to distribute or bring pages 150 to the computer screen of a client are as follows. To begin, a computer user may send a request for pages 150 to server computer system 118 using a browser at client computer systems 108, 110, 112, and/or 114. Server computer system 118 may contain executable programs 207 that generate the web page files.
The request from the client or user may contain the address of the server, here server computer system 118, and the subaddress of the program file at the server, here executable programs 207. In Internet protocol, this complete address may be a locator string that may be referred to as the uniform resource locator (URL). An example of a URL is http://www.law.com. The user may send the request by entering the desired locator string in the browser URL space provided on pages 150. Alternatively, the client may depress an electronic link button to send the web page request. The electronic link button may be located on one of several Web pages and may be programmed to enter the desired locator string in the browser URL space of the client.
A browser is a program that accesses and displays files
available on the World Wide Web. On receiving the request, server computer
system 118 may invoke executable programs 207 to build the HTML page file
and send the HTML page file to the browser that requested the Web page.
On receiving the HTML page file, client computer systems 108, 110, 112,
and/or 114 may store the file in memory 206 and use this stored file to
build and display Web pages 150 on display 216 of the client computer system.