Legal IT experts gather to volunteer help

Group of 20 IT and legal professionals in Singapore will provide legal information to help local small businesses and individuals understand their online rights and responsibilities.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SINGAPORE--A group of lawyers and IT specialists have banded to offer free legal information to local businesses and users about their online rights and responsibilities, covering areas such as intellectual property, domain name disputes and defamation.

Coined the Community of IT Experts (CITE), the volunteer group comprises 20 lawyers and academics specializing in the IT field including ZDNet Asia's blogger Bryan Tan, who runs his own practice Keystone Law, Ang Peng Hwa, who is director of the Singapore Internet Research Centre under the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and Steven Liew, senior director and legal counsel of eBay Asia-Pacific.

Initiated by NTU, CITE aims to grow user awareness and engagement with online content and communication. It will provide free Web-related legal information to individuals and small businesses that lack the resources and financial support to access legal information elsewhere.

In a statement Wednesday, Ang noted that the group's volunteers view the Internet as "critically important" to the future of Singapore and that more in the city-state should be encouraged to put content on our Internet.

"We believe the information model we are proposing can make a difference. CITE can help to address many of the concerns and some mistaken notions that individuals and small companies may have about the content on the Internet," he said.

Tan added: "I think it is a worthy cause to provide some basic information on the law for people to understand it and be educated especially in an area which is fast-changing. Technology is pervasive and its widespread adoption means that, more than any other area of law, technology law touches most lives, no matter how young or old, how rich or how poor."

The voluntary group will offer legal information in the areas of intellectual property--including copyright, trademark and design--defamation or liability, domain name disputes, unauthorized access and Internet review.

CITE will match the appropriate experts to address assistance requested and post relevant articles on its Web site to inform the public about their online rights.

The group is still looking to expand its base and seek more lawyers willing to volunteer their time. Technologists, academics and students are also encouraged to contribute their expertise, it said.

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