UW News

April 27, 2000

Center for Law, Commerce and Technology fights for public interest on the Internet

University of Washington students and professors are aiding Attorney General Christine Gregoire in her newly announced initiative to protect consumers online.

The UW’s Center for Law, Commerce and Technology is teaming up with Gregoire’s office to design a new cyber-complaints resource center (http://www.wa.gov/ago) to help protect citizens from online fraud and other crimes.

The Center for Law Commerce and Technology, launched at the UW Law School last fall, also is conducting research for Gregoire’s office and other public agencies on consumer protection, privacy and other Internet issues.

“We’re going to be providing nonpartisan policy research in this emerging field,” said Anita Ramasastry, associate director of the UW center and assistant professor of law.

At the request of the nation’s attorneys general, for example, center faculty and students are preparing a report on handling consumer cyber-disputes, studying the charge-back system that credit-card companies use as one potential model.

The center also is due to issue a report on Internet industry self-regulation in May.

A major international conference on “Regulating the Internet” is being hosted by the center this evening through Saturday. More than two dozen scholars and government officials from America and Europe will take part in panels on press freedom, the privacy of online data, civic participation and other issues. The full program is posted at http://www.law.washington.edu/lct/conference1.html.

While the Harvard, Stanford and UC Berkeley law schools also boast Internet programs, Ramasastry said, the UW Center for Law, Commerce and Technology offers a particularly deep international and comparative focus and strong emphasis on the public interest.

“I’d say we have a greater focus on consumers,” Ramasastry said.

A part of the UW’s century-old Law School, the Center for Law, Commerce and Technology collaborates with the university’s Business School, College of Engineering, School of Library and Information Science and Department of Molecular Biotechnology.

For more information, contact Ramasastry at (206) 616-8441 or arama@u.washington.edu. The Web address is http://www.law.washington.edu/lct/