AuthorDavid Johnston
ProfessionFaculty of Law McGill University Chair, Canadian Information Highway Advisory Council President, University of Waterloo
to the First Edition
This book is a gem. It is essential for anyone — lawyer or non-lawyer
— interested, intrigued, or impaled by the challenge modern informa-
tion technology poses for the rule of law. It is Canadian in the sense
that much of its data is Canadian-based. But it will be read with profit
by anyone, in any jurisdiction, who must deal with the information
revolution and the necessary adjustments in private and public law.
The book is a judicious, well-tempered balance of theory and prac-
tice. It gives enough technological background to understand the prob-
lem and challenge of the computer and communications transformation.
It selects legal puzzles drawn from a kaleidoscope of fact patterns from
a busy and rapidly changing law practice. It explains and expounds the
law, its adaptability, its limits, and then advances reforms concisely and
clearly. It will be valuable to specialized, as well as general, lawyers and
law students and to non-lawyers interested in these technological
changes and the law’s response. It is organized elegantly and written elo-
quently — in short, a joy to read. Choice, selection, focus, and synthe-
sis are precious gifts in crafting the knowledge society from the
Information Age. The author displays these gifts splendidly.
The author has practised computer law for a dozen years and
taught it for half that time at two eminent Canadian law schools. The
book reflects the distilled wisdom of that experience. The author wres-
tles with practical, urgent, and endlessly novel problems by imagina-
tively conceptualizing them in an intellectual framework that takes one
back to first principles. The book also demonstrates a scholar’s love of
history. The author skilfully compares the law’s response to other relat-
ed technologies from the printing press forward. And, in one especial-
ly intriguing analysis of the evolution of the “signature” for contractual
authentication, he reaches back to the Old Testament book of Ruth to
describe the giving over of one of a pair of sandals to a contracting
party trader in a commercial transaction. The one sandal would be

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