Towards Information Law

Autore:Vittorio Frosini

1. Recollection of an inaugural lecture - 2. Past and present in the relationship between informatics and law - 3. Informatics and the modern law of information - 4. Informatics: civil law, criminal law and the administration of justice - 5. Society and information law.

    Pubblichiamo il testo della relazione tenuta il 16 marzo 1995 dal prof. Vittorio Frosini nella Ceremony Hall della Università di Oslo per la celebrazione del XXV anniversario della fondazione dello Institutt for rettsinformatik diretto dal prof. Jon Bing. In tale occasione, il Norwegian Research Center for Computer and Law (NRCCL) ha radunato i sette pionieri dell'informatica giuridica nel mondo; oltre al prof. V. Frosini hanno partecipato i professori Colin Tapper (Oxford), Layman Allen (Michigan), Peter Seipel (Stockholm), Spiros Simitis (Frankfurt am Main), Lucien Mehl (Paris), Ejan Mackaay (Montréal), alcuni dei quali membri corrispondenti del Comitato Scientifico della nostra Rivista. Ad ognuno dei sette invitati è stata intitolata un'aula dell'Istituto d'informatica giuridica, che ha sede nell'edificio della Facoltà di Giurisprudenza: al prof. V. Frosini, Presidente del Comitato Scientifico della nostra Rivista, è stata intitolata la stanza delle riunioni (Moterom, n. 436) dell'Istituto. Si è reso in tal modo omaggio al contributo dato dagli studiosi italiani allo sviluppo di questa disciplina, presente (ed operante) con grande prestigio nella comunità accademica norvegese come in quella di altri Paesi di civiltà tecnologica avanzata. Diversamente, in Italia, essa resta a fare da Cenerentola, confusa nel gruppo delle discipline filosofico-giuridiche, e ciò malgrado il riconoscimento internazionale del valore dei contributi dottrinali e la presenza di un'articolata legislazione che regola l'uso dell'informatica e delle nuove tecnologie dell'informazione e comunicazione. (C.C.)

1. Recollection of an inaugural lecture

Dante Alighieri, in his voyage exploring the hereafter, having descended into the fourth «bolgia» of hell, declared that «of a new pain I must make verses»: new or, in other words, unusual and strange. He had, in fact, come into view of the place where diviners, soothsayers and prophets are punished; or all those who wished to foresee the future; and who, through the punitive law of retaliation, are now forced to look behind as they walk backwards, because they have their heads turned facing over their shoulders:

"for the face was turned towards the loins and they had to come backwards, since seeing forward was denied them"1.

And this is, in fact, the destiny of those who believe they can predict the future: after a period of time has passed, they are forced to look back, so they can compare their predictions with what has actually happened and, therefore, foresight needs to be inverted and put into retrospective. It is now my turn to submit to this law.

On December 18, 1965, I gave my inaugural lecture, as the new Professor of the chair of Philosophy of law at the University of Catania, on the relationships between Humanism and Technology in Jurisprudence2. It was, as usual in those days before the students' protest movement in 1968, a magnificent and festive ceremony, attended not only by students and colleagues, but also by political authorities and judges. I was told later that some of the judges have been cautious and doubtful in their comments, although they had all politely applauded.

In fact, the prediction made in my speech that the computer would become an aid in the administration of justice, whereby what I called «artificial law» would be created, caused some alarm. This, I must say, was justified in society as it was then, in which resorting to new, automated methods and tools still seemed to be related to science fiction. In that year, the first computer I had been able to see in operation had been installed at the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Catania: it was an IBM computer, manufactured in 1960. But less than two years later, in 1967, a group of judges from the Massimario (the Law Reporting Office) of the Italian Supreme Court began creating an electronic documentation centre, whose initial results were presented in Rome on March 21, 19693.

2. Past and present in the relationship between informatics and law

I will not retrace here the mental itinerary that, initially in the USA and later in Europe, led lawyers, from the date of publication of Lee Loevinger's article «Jurimetrics. The Next Step Forward» in 1949 up to 1965 when I gave my inaugural lecture, to become interested in the possible applications of the computer to their specific field of competence. I prefer, instead, to measure the mental distance that separates us from those days and expectations, by noting that in the space of thirty years the problems of computer law, not only with respect to the techniques for computer management, but also regarding the informatics «property» they produce, have been added to the problems of legal informatics, or to the use of the computer's operational methodology and tools for legal research. From «computer in the law» to the «law of the computer».

These new problems are, therefore, strictly legal problems, related to the different aspects of that concept of property in the various branches of the law: civil, commercial, criminal, administrative, procedural and even constitutional and international law. These thin limbs are joined to a single body, in a new scientific legal...

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