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

  • Date and Time: Tues and Thursday, 11:00 – 12:15 Tues & Thurs, Room 336 Boardman Hall
  • Assignments: Assignments and their due dates and times are posted on the syllabus.
  • Archived Broadcasts: Links to the class videos are made available at the end of each class day through the course Blackboard site under the Class Sessions Videos Archive link in the left menu. Please view the video of any session you miss.
  • Live Video Broadcasts: If you have a soft voice, please sit near a microphone so that students at a distance can pick up your voice on the recording. If you need to travel, you can participate live from anywhere with good Internet access. The live stream is available at a Zoom link on Blackboard.  Always use ear buds or headphones when at a distance. Headphones with a microphone are highly recommended if you participate from some place noisy like a coffee shop.
  • Live Office Hours with the Instructor: Attend the online office hours as described below or make arrangements to meet with the instructor just before or after class or otherwise in his office as appropriate.

   Class Sessions: Online Students

  • Assignments: Assignments and their due dates and times are posted on the syllabus. 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 relate primarily to the readings rather than to the recorded class lectures.
  • Recorded Broadcasts: In-class sessions are video recorded each Tuesday and Thursday morning. View any previous lectures before the virtual (Zoom) office hours you  plan to attend. Links to the class videos are made available at the end of each day through the course Blackboard site under the Class Sessions Videos Archive link in the left menu. (Note: If a live session fails to record due to technical difficulties I will either record again the lecture portion of the session or post a video on the same topic from a previous year.)
  • Live Video Broadcasts: Online students are NOT expected to attend the live class sessions (whether virtual or on campus) at 11:00 on Tuesday and Thursday but may do so at your option. If you do so at a distance, please place your microphone in the Zoom menu on mute and wear ear buds or headphones when you unmute.
  • Live Office Hours with the Instructor (Video Chat on Zoom): View the most recent class videos (the lectures and in-class student discussions) prior to any live virtual session you attend. Live sessions are available though the persistent Zoom link in the left menu on Blackboard. While NOT mandatory, students often find the live sessions very productive for asking questions and discussing points not raised in the lectures. If joining by video (preferred), you should activate your camera so we can see you. Please wear earbuds or headphones to prevent others from receiving audio feedback. Students that regularly attend the office hours tend to learn more and perform better than those that don’t.

Zoom Details

Type in your real name when joining the Zoom conference and activate your camera.
Join from Web (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android):
Join using iPhone one-tap: US: +16468769923,,6161684876# or +16699006833,,6161684876#
Join using Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 616 168 4876
International numbers available:

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, 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. 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 (see the front page of Blackboard for the password), the Booklist, or the Selected Web Readings and Videos. 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:

30% – written responses to the module assignments (and class participation for on-campus students)
10% – a detailed review of a book that addresses contemporary information systems law or policy issues (there may be a book club option)
10% – completion of a legal badge
25% mid-term exam – involves a complex legal scenario involving several conflicts that you as a hypothetical attorney will need to analyze and resolve for your client
25% final exam – a sit down 2-hour problem scenario exam

  • SELF ASSESSMENT OF GRADE TO DATE:  Because you are able to read the ongoing 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 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.

Even if late, all module question responses MUST BE SUBMITTED before the end of the semester. Missing modules or other assignments will result in an incomplete in the course.

D. Communications

  • Delivery of Assignments and Class Notices:
    While assignments are made on the Lectures and Assignments web page, the course will use Blackboard for delivery of completed assignments.  Blackboard interfaces are automatically established for all UMaine courses each semester. Find Blackboard at (the yellow and black Bb icon). All officially enrolled students are automatically enrolled into the Blackboard course. The course should appear as active in your Blackboard 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 Blackboard. The course website is also accessible from the left menu.
    • Module Assignments: Your regular module assignments will be submitted under the Student Module Submissions link under Assignments found in the left menu.
      • At the beginning of the course and as new module questions are placed on the syllabus, 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 numbered questions and your personal responses. The entire compiled document will need to be submitted at the end of the semester.
      • Before each module assignment deadline, type responses to the questions for the module in your master document.
      • Copy your response for each module question one-by-one from your master document and paste each into Blackboard. Follow these links: Student Module Submissions > choose one of Modules A through Z > choose the appropriate Question > select Create Thread under the question > paste in your question response > click Submit.
      • Only AFTER you make each question submission will you be able to see the responses of others to the same question. If you return after the deadline (8:00 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays), all on-time submissions of your classmates should be visible.
      • Continue the process until you have transferred into Blackboard responses to all questions within the assigned module.
    • Review of Class Response Compilations: During the Tuesday and Thursday class sessions the instructor will often review or highlight some of the responses submitted the evening before. Please look at the list of all submissions by your peers prior to attending class if attending live.
    • End of Semester Files: These products must be delivered ONLY as Word or PDF files and each will be delivered as a file in the appropriate section under Assignments. Click on the appropriate item (Book Review, etc.) and on the page that comes up, look for “Browse My Computer” to select the file from your computer to upload. Click on “Submit” to send the file. The files should be named starting with your last name and take the form of the following:
      • Smith – Personal Module Submissions Compilation
      • Smith – Law Shelf Badge Documentation (may be due earlier)
      • Smith – Book Review(may be due earlier)

E. Important Notices
Academic Honesty: Academic honesty is expected.  Plagiarism is unacceptable in this course and will result 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. The instructor has the option of checking all submissions in the course against SafeAssign (embedded in BlackBoard), TurnItIn, and similar plagiarism checkers.

F. Instructor Office Hours & Discussion Sessions
For one-on-one discussions with the instructor, send an e-mail to We can then arrange a phone conversation or in-person meeting as needed. An alternative method might be to send a query to selected (or all) classmates through the Blackboard message interface.

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