This article has been written by Amulya (Team Lawsikho).
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
Table of Contents
“AI will replace you!”- With the skyrocketing advancements in technology, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that AI could one day replace basic legal work. This fear has only snowballed with the recent news of a chatbot’s ability to outperform most law school graduates on the bar exam in the United States. One field of law that will become even more relevant with such digital developments is technology law, making the role of tech lawyers more important than ever before. This article primarily focuses on the work that a tech lawyer does and the possible career opportunities available in this field.
What is technology law and who is a tech lawyer
Technology law governs the use of technology and its association with law. As ever evolving technology continues to shape the world, technology law covers a plethora of legal issues associated with such virtual advancements such as dissemination of information in the digital space, development of rules and regulations against hacking, digital copyright protection, etc. The post Covid-19 world, more specifically, has led to a substantial shift to online platforms and has exponentially expanded the scope of technology law across the globe, making the role of tech lawyers essential in the 21st century.
A tech lawyer ideally has a deep understanding of legal as well as technological concepts, and is most importantly able to connect the two. Merely understanding the importance of a tech lawyer without the work they do is like constructing a building but no knowledge of what you are building.
Career opportunities and job responsibilities of a tech lawyer
Protection of Intellectual Property
As businesses and art are flourishing in the digital arena, a common concern herein is protection of intellectual property such as copyrights, trademarks and patents to protect the originators of such IPs. This is where the role of a technology lawyer comes into play; they have wide job responsibilities as far as intellectual property is concerned. Some of them are:
- Registering copyrights and defending copyright infringement claims.
- Working on DMCA and other takedown and content-infringement notices.
- Handling trademark issues on e-commerce and social media platforms.
- Assist companies in determining if they have rights against a competitor using a similar mark and enforcing such rights.
Laws are mandatory to regulate fair conduct within a society and the same is the case with technology. This includes assisting the government to inculcate new policies with respect to the growth in technology. For example, the Information Technology Act, 2000 came into being due to a switch to electronic transactions. Similarly, with furtherance in technology associated with artificial intelligence and data science, there is a need to monitor its scope. The role of a tech lawyer includes the following:
- Drafting of privacy policies for compliance with European Union General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) or other data protection laws.
- Enforcing a set standard of terms and conditions to be followed by individuals and corporations while engaging in the digital space.
- Incorporating laws to prevent any kind of harassment in the digital space.
- Analyse the need for fresh rules and regulations for upcoming technology.
FinTech, EdTech, MedTech, etc.
Commonly known as the tech family, terms such as FinTech, EdTech etc., are used to coin new activities and models in the business world. Wherever there is technology, a tech lawyer would be required to safeguard against any legal issue. Indian tech startups are now operating globally, creating opportunities for tech lawyers.
For example, FinTechs have adopted new digital technologies to change the face of financial and banking services by offering an array of amenities such as quick method of payment, personalised chatbot, security against transactions, etc. With all business models where the business has an interplay with technology, a tech lawyer is required to do the following work:
- Identification of regulatory barriers to new technology.
- Constantly working with companies to ensure compliance with laws.
- Drawing necessary commercial agreements, for example, developing the legal framework for electronic transactions and payment services in FinTechs.
- Providing advice, assistance and support in creation of structures and environment for ethical and legal compliances.
Digital Media Companies
The emergence of content creation has led to a rise in the work of digital media companies. Content creation is not merely a byproduct of the digital age but varied factors such as the lockdown and community support have led to a boom in online content creation. The world of influencers and online content, such as OTT platforms, is the future and since after the pandemic, it has dominated headlines across the globe. From contract drafting to regulation of content, a tech lawyer would have the following responsibilities when working with digital media companies:
- Drafting of commercial contracts and terms and conditions for web apps, services, e-commerce portals and other websites as well as online marketing and promotion agreements.
- Drafting of a variety of technology agreements pertaining to development and evaluation of software, website development, master services agreements.
- Regulation of the content uploaded online and its adherence with the existing laws.
- Assisting new-age influences in negotiating contracts with high-end brand.
- Preparing e-commerce and OTT specific agreements with specific OTT platforms.
Decentralised Finance (DeFi) Companies
This is nothing but emerging trends around revolutionising the finance industry which is currently deeply embedded in the banking system. These eliminate the role of banks and the charges taken by them for their services. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are core technologies of decentralised finance which offer people innovative ways to manage their funds. In this regard, some of the works that a tech lawyer can do are:
- Drafting of new policies and recommendations to regulate decentralised finance companies.
- Drafting of contracts and ensuring compliance in this money-making field that most people know very little about.
- Investment policies for jurisdictions across the globe to attract individuals and corporations to invest in their DeFi Companies.
Data Management and Privacy Concerns
Every company has certain secrets which, if go out, could shake the well-being of their business. Data privacy and management revolve around governing who shall have access to data and also incorporating the necessary tools and policies to ensure that such data remains protected. In this industry, tech lawyers would be required to carry out the following responsibilities:
- Determining database access and taxation on the sale of softwares.
- Advising and monitoring transfer of data between different data jurisdictions.
- Performing legal risk audits and IP-related diligence on software or digital services platforms.
- Lodging complaints and finding legal remedies against cyber offences.
- Reporting and responding to data breaches.
- Negotiating key terms such as indemnities.
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
From AI being able to create pictures of people who don’t exist to students now using ChatGPT to finish their homework, AI is certainly taking over the world. However, its regulation still remains a grave concern due to possible privacy breaches and overarching power of those with access to such technology. Tech lawyers are not only important but necessary, given the development of AI and the rising concerns regarding its use. A tech lawyer would have the following roles to play in managing AI and data science:
- Formulation of the laws that govern the scope of use of AI.
- Drafting of commercial contracts for the use of technologies such as ChatGPT by other companies.
- Regulation of use of AP technology to ensure that the privacy of persons remains intact.
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