SIE 525: Overview

Information Systems Law

Professor Harlan J. Onsrud
Room 340 Boardman Hall

Course Objectives

This course reviews the current status of information systems law in regard to rights of privacy, freedom of information, confidentiality, work product protection, copyright, security, legal liability, and a range of additional legal and information policy topics. We will investigate the legal difficulties that technological innovations are causing in all of these areas. We will focus particularly on these issues in regard to their impact on the use of digital data work products and databases. Legal options for dealing with the conflicts caused by technological change and likely adaptations of the law over time in response to societal changes will be explored.

A. Class Sessions: On-Campus Students (Students enrolled in the on-campus section must attend the class physically in Rm. 326 Boardman from 9:30AM – 10:45AM on Tuesdays and synchronously online from 9:30AM – 10:45AM on Thursdays. You may use the classroom in a group or individually to attend the Thursday live sessions.)

  • Date and Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 – 10:45. This semester the “on campus” section of the course is offered in Rm 326 Boardman on Tuesdays and typically online synchronously on Thursdays. That is, you must attend “live” through the SIE 525 Zoom Sessions link on Thursdays. You may access this link on the course top level page in Brightspace. You must be logged in with your full name appearing to the rest of the class. Facial expressions on video go a long way toward making people feel more connected. As such, please keep your camera on during live sessions. Unmute your microphone when called upon to present or respond to a question.
  • Assignments: Assignments with their due dates and times are posted on the course web site under Lectures and Assignments and under Selected Law Course Videos. Written assignments will be delivered by you to the Brightspace site for the course.
  • Attendance: Class sessions are highly participatory for those enrolled in the “on-campus” section of the course. For this group, attendance and oral participation are substantial components of your semester grade. Expect to participate in oral discussions each and every class session.
  • Archived Broadcasts: Links to the recorded class broadcasts will be made available at the end of each day through Brightspace (see the B logo at Within the SIE 525 domain, access the class videos under Class Resources > Videos. View these recordings if you miss a session or to review concepts discussed.
  • Live Office Hours with the Instructor: Attend the online office hours as discussed below or make arrangements to meet with the instructor just before or after class either in the physical classroom or in the Zoom session as appropriate. Separate appointments are also possible.

   Class Sessions: Online Students (Students enrolled in the online section may view the class recordings at any time of your choosing (i.e. asynchronously) or you may attend synchronously online from 9:30AM – 10:45AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays whether occasionally or regularly.

  • Date and Time: Students enrolled in the online section of the course are NOT required to attend synchronously. However, you have the option to attend live video broadcasts if you so desire by following the instructions above for on-campus synchronous students. Occasional or even regular synchronous attendance is encouraged.
  • Assignments: Assignments with their due dates and times are posted on the course web site under Lectures and Assignments and under Selected Law Course Videos. Online students should do the module assignments at any time of your choosing before the indicated deadlines. Please feel free to complete them well in advance since they often relate primarily to the readings rather than to the recorded class lectures.
  • Archived Broadcasts: In-class sessions are video recorded each Tuesday and Thursday morning. Links to the class videos are made available at the end of each day through the course folder on Brightspace under Class Resources > Video.
  • Live Office Hours with the Instructor (Video Sessions on Zoom): View the most recent class videos (the lectures and in-class student discussions) prior to any live virtual session you attend. Live office hour sessions are made available though the same persistent Zoom link used for the synchronous sessions in the course. The link may be accessed through the course homepage on Brightspace. Students often find the office hours very productive for asking questions and discussing points not raised in the lectures. If joining by video (preferred), please activate your camera so we can all see each other. Students that regularly attend the office hours tend to learn more and perform better than those that don’t.

B. Course Materials

  • Note that this is a graduate course addressing information systems law, policy, and ethical issues for non-law students. As such, substantial time is spent on introductory legal concepts. The typical enrolled student is pursuing a graduate program in information systems, data science and engineering, spatial informatics, computing/computer science, business administration, engineering, or another domain in which a knowledge of cyberlaw issues may be of value. We will focus on overview books and sources for most of the readings rather than use the text of case law or legislation.
  • Required readings include several books, chapters of books and articles. This semester the assignments also include a sequence of online videos for paralegals that may be either viewed or read. The reading assignments are much heavier than experienced normally in computing or engineering courses so you should begin them early and pace yourself to ensure their completion. If links to readings under Lectures and Assignments happen to be dead, check for archived copies of the open access articles through the Course Material Backups, the Booklist, or the Selected Web Readings. If a password is needed for some links confronted in this course, you will typically find the password on the top page for the course in Brightspace. Most of the required readings are available openly on the web through open access licenses. Many are also often available by ordering them from online sources if you prefer published paper copies.
  • Course lectures will NOT correspond exactly with the readings.  Keep up with the assignments regardless of the current topic being covered in the lectures. Additional reading materials may be made available and linked from the web syllabus over time.  Location tracking and geographic data conflict examples are often used in this course to illustrate principles.
  • Supplemental Instructions:

C. Grading and Class Policies

  • Grades in this course will be based on the quality and completion of all requirements listed on the syllabus. The requirements may be reasonably altered at the discretion of the instructor as the course progresses. As a graduate level course, you are expected to exhibit high quality work that demonstrates sound understanding of the concepts and their complexity. Your written work should reflect professional quality in composition as well as in spelling and grammar. Earning an “A” represents oral and written work that is of exceptionally high quality and demonstrates superb understanding of the course material. A “B” grade represents oral and written work that is of good quality and demonstrates a sound understanding of course material. A “C” grade represents a minimally adequate completion of assignments and participation demonstrating a limited understanding of course material.
  • Although subject to change, grades are proposed to be weighted as follows:

40% – written responses to the A through Z module assignments (and class participation for on-campus students) Note: Students must complete any 22 out of the 24 module assignments. If more modules are submitted, the highest 22 grades will be maintained and the other(s) dropped. [Module S is a group book project and not included in the 24 count.] [If a module is scored on a basis of 20 pts, missing question statements = -2, late at all = -2, late more than 8 hours = -3, late after posting peer responses = -8, deficient in quality, depth, etc. = -1 to -20]
35% – earning of paralegal badges from specified LawShelf assignments with each assignment requiring passage of a “final exam.” Note: This series of at least weekly online quizzes replaces the midterm exam for this semester. Students must complete any 10 out of the 15 badge assignments. If more badges are earned, the highest 10 badge grades will be maintained and the other(s) dropped.
10% – a detailed review of a book by a group of 3 to 4 class peers for a book that addresses contemporary information systems law or policy issues. Note: You must be part of a team and all team members receive the same grade.
0% mid-term exam – (no midterm exam this semester – a midterm may replace completion of paralegal badges for those choosing not to pursue the badges) – typically involves a complex legal scenario involving several conflicts that you as a hypothetical attorney will need to analyze and resolve for your client
15% final exam – The final exam focuses primarily on the class sessions either attended live by on-campus students and those attending synchronously or regularly viewed online by those at a distance. Students should take notes on the slide templates provided on the syllabus for each lecture. The exam will cover a set of true/false questions with the requirement to explain the reasoning of the student responses and will involve a complex legal scenario involving several conflicts that you as a hypothetical attorney will need to analyze and resolve for your client. Typically this is a sit down 2-hour exam using Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor or physically sitting in the classroom.

All assignments in the course must be reasonably completed, even if late. If any assignments in the course are missing, you will receive an Incomplete grade in the course.

  • SELF ASSESSMENT OF A THROUGH Z MODULE GRADES TO DATE:  A compilation of the responses to the Module questions will typically be posted on Brightspace within a week after the module deadline. While all late module assignments are penalized, those arriving after the posting of the compilation of peer responses are much more severely penalized. Because you are able to read the ongoing A through Z module responses of all other students in the course, continually ask yourself:
    • Was my response among the top five responses in terms of being comprehensive, accurate, insightful and thoughtful?
    • Was my response on par with at least the top half of the other class responses?
    • Was my response obviously below the majority of other responses in terms of comprehensiveness or was it off topic or mistaken in terms of assessing one or more core issues?
  • GENERAL GRADING RUBRICS FOR A THROUGH Z MODULE RESPONSES:  The following rubrics generally apply but necessarily will vary somewhat depending on the nature and content of the readings and the issues being addressed. Module responses will be assessed from low-to-high scale as follows:

1. Non-responsive or little evidence that readings were understood or perhaps even read.
2. An arguably substantive response but without clarification, explanation, or reasoning.
3. Substantively responsive reflecting understanding of the covered concepts
4. Thoughtful reflection, analysis, or critique in addition to responsiveness and understanding
5. Additional exceptional insights, perspectives, analyses, or syntheses.

More specific rubrics using highly objective standards are avoided in this course. As in a court of law or in a typical debate, your arguments and reasoning are measured against those of peers and antagonists. Thus, they are assessed relatively as opposed to absolutely as would be the case under more highly constrained pre-determined rubrics. For points penalized on modules, please refer to the following scoring index the letters of which may be referenced in the instructors online grading comments.

  • GENERAL GRADING RUBRICS FOR LAWSHELF PARALEGAL BADGES: Keep taking the final exam for each badge until you pass it. Your grade if you pass is 100% or if you fail is 0%. Points lost on these assignments are primarily due to being late in delivering the individual badges to Brightspace. You must ultimately pass each badge requirement with the exception of the two that may be dropped.

Again, even if late, all required assignments in the course MUST BE SUBMITTED before the end of the semester. Missing modules or video assignments (other than covered by the discussion above) will result in an Incomplete for your grade in the course.

D. Communications

  • Delivery of Assignments and Class Notices:
    While assignments are made on the Lectures and Assignments web page and on the Selected Law Course Videos page, the course will use Brightspace for delivery of completed assignments.  Brightspace interfaces are automatically established for all UMaine courses each semester. You may find Brightspace at (the yellow B icon). All officially enrolled students are automatically enrolled into the Brightspace course. This course should appear as active in your course list. Click on SIE 525 Information Systems Law.

    • Class Announcements: The instructor may occasionally issue class notices or make announcements to all students on the main course page of Brightspace. However, more frequently they are made through email.
    • A to Z toModule Assignments: Your regular module assignments will be submitted in Brightspace under Assessments > Assignments > click the appropriate Module assignment. Forward your email messages to your regular email account to ensure that class messages are not missed.
      • At the beginning of the course copy all questions from the web syllabus for all modules into a single word processing document. This is your master module document. Remove all formatting from the document leaving only the module title and the numbered questions. Under each module question you will enter your personal responses throughout the semester. The entire compiled document may need to be submitted at the end of the semester.
      • Before each module assignment deadline, type responses to the questions (i.e. A-1, A-2, etc.) for the module into your master document.
      • In doing a “cut and paste” into the response window in Brightspace, the first line of your response must be YourLastName, Module xx Report (e.g. Johnson, Module A Report). Follow this with the module questions and your responses for each.  Click Submit.
      • Several days after the due date, the compilation  of responses from all of your peers will be posted on the frontpage of Brightspace under Content > Compiled Module A to Z Student Responses.
  • Badge Assignments: Your regular badge assignments will be submitted in Brightspace under Assessments > Assignments > click the appropriate Badge assignment. Follow the instructions for delivering badge assignments provided at the bottom of the page at Selected Law Course Videos. The badge transcript you provide after completion of each new badge assignment will typically include all of your previously completed badges as well.

E. Important Notices

Academic Honesty: Academic honesty is expected.  Plagiarism is unacceptable in this course and will result typically in a failing grade.  “Although a writer may use other persons’ words and thoughts, they must be acknowledged as such.” Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert, MLA Handbook (Modern Language Association) 1977, p. 4.

Academic Honesty See also UMS Academic Integrity Policy (effective Sept 1, 2020)
Students Accessibility Services Statement
Course Schedule Disclaimer
Observance of Religious Holidays/Events
Sexual Discrimination Reporting
Student Conduct Expectations
Classroom Civility
Inclusive and Non-sexist Language
Copyright Notice for Materials Accessible through the Course Website
Contingency Plans in the Event of an Epidemic
COVID-19 Statement

F. Instructor Office Hours & Discussion Sessions

  • For one-on-one discussions with the instructor: E-mail to is often the simplest way to get a message through and a response. You are also welcome to call my office at 207-581-2175 (seldom on campus this semester). If a face-to-face session is desired, send me an email with a suggested time and date to schedule a Zoom session.
  • Post a question or comment: Sometimes a faster or better way to get help is to post your question to other students in the course on the BrightSpace site. Students in the past have sometimes organized a class Discord, Slack, or similar online capability to discuss course concepts and issues among class peers.Feel free to do so if desired.
  • Office Hours – Live Discussion  Sessions: Office hours will be established at the beginning of the semester. Within 15 minutes after the beginning of the office hour session, go to the Zoom link as listed on the course front page in Brightspace. Feel free to use the chat as well if several students are in the session. If no students show up within 15 minutes of the start time I may leave the session.


Creative Commons License
SIE 525 Information Systems Law by Harlan Onsrud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.