The influence of the Internet on today’s economy causes the legislative institutions of most countries to pass new laws regulating computer networks. However, the development of the Internet would not be the only reason for such actions, if not for the rapid development of technology, especially telecommunications. Therefore, the aim of the lawmaking activity is to create new regulations that regulate the issues of the global means of communication using new technologies.
Apart from the attempt to legally define technical issues, the economic functions of the Internet determine the need to create regulations in the area of e-commerce. E-commerce is a part of modern economic trade and one cannot overlook its specificity resulting from the use of electronic means of information transmission and concluding transactions through the network.
An important role is also played by the provision of services available through the Internet, which are referred to as the collective name of online services. The provision of such services consists in making information available through websites and search engines, running stores and online auctions and providing financial services.
Within the framework of providing services available in the network by electronic means, mainly web pages and e-mail are used to conclude contracts. Web pages (World Wide Web) with the help of placed links enable interactive communication and organization of commercial activities, in particular the so-called virtual stores. Email, on the other hand, enables fast transmission of messages and data via the Internet between the network users.
The legal regulations related to the Internet therefore essentially aim to define the rights and obligations of entrepreneurs providing services in the network and to ensure the protection of users’ interests. However, the process of implementation of new legal solutions concerning the Internet should to a large extent take into account not only the postulates of the legal doctrine, but also economic conditions.
The Internet as a computer network is characterized by at least a few features which are of importance in the legal sphere. First of all, the global reach of the network is emphasized, which means that the network cannot be assigned or controlled by one country. An equally important feature of the Internet is the interactivity of the network, which enables the exchange and selection of information and communication at a distance.
The Internet is a means of communication and cannot be treated as a rightful subject, nor is it subject to rights, particularly in the category of ownership. The Internet also does not have a specific operator or disposer, no person or company responsible for events that occur on the network can be identified. This specificity makes it virtually impossible to give a legal definition of the Internet and should be confined to describing the functioning of the Internet in the context of different areas of law.
It should also be remembered that due to its widespread use, the Internet is not only of technical or IT importance. Therefore, the legal issues of the Internet must also take into account a broader aspect of the functioning of the network, which results from the social consequences. The universal dimension of the Internet even encourages the introduction of new concepts, such as cyber society and cyberspace. This may cause the temptation to define new legal regulations as “the law of cyberspace”.
“The Law of the Internet”, which was adopted by the authors of this work, does not therefore correspond to the existing branch of law, which has its specific normative scope. It is a term chosen to describe legal issues related to the Internet, which has been partially regulated in the legal system.
The subject of particular chapters of the paper are the most important issues of the Internet in relation to the related legal regulations – in particular the Civil Code, the Act on rendering electronic services, the Act on electronic payment instruments and the Act on electronic signature.
In addition to an attempt to present the provisions that relate directly to the Internet, the paper discusses the provisions of these laws, which are related to new technologies and means of communication and information management, where there is a need to use certain tools in the network. In this part of the book there is a commentary to the Act on the protection of databases and a discussion of the issues of computer law.
It also includes issues related to illegal behavior on the Internet. This applies in particular to illegal practices consisting in the infringement of exclusive rights to trademarks and acts of unfair competition on the Internet which infringe the economic interests of entrepreneurs, in particular in the commercial use of electronic mail.
As part of the approximation of the issues of electronic commerce and rules of network use, basic types of contracts concluded on the Internet, the institution of electronic money, consumer protection issues and – due to the global reach of the Internet – issues of jurisdiction and applicable law were also described. A separate chapter is devoted to the evolution of copyright law in the context of the information society.
Focusing on discussing the legal regulations that directly regulate the Internet has resulted in the book not addressing other legal aspects related to the Internet, for which there are currently no specific regulations within the legal system.
The discussion of legal aspects of the Internet is often preceded by an explanation of basic concepts. The concept of this work, however, is not to create a specific lexicon of the Internet, but to present regulations concerning the Internet with the necessary commentary. For these reasons, the explanation of the basic principles of the functioning of the Internet has been limited, assuming that most of the Readers have the appropriate knowledge or use the professional IT literature in this area.