Semantic Technologies and Web Services: A Primer on Legal Issues

Semantic Technologies and Web Services: A Primer on Legal Issues

Claudia Cevenini (CIRSFID University of Bologna, Italy), Gianluigi Fioriglio (CIRSFID University of Bologna, Italy), Migle Laukyte (CIRSFID University of Bologna, Italy), Alessandro Rocchi (CIRSFID University of Bologna, Italy) and Giuseppe Contissa (CIRSFID University of Bologna, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-650-1.ch028
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This chapter adds a further dimension to interdisciplinary research on Semantic Web and Web Services: ICT is undergoing a strong and constant regulatory phenomenon at national, European and international level and needs to be constantly monitored. This makes it possible to develop and use technologies in a law-abiding manner and to be aware of the legal position (rights and duties) of oneself and third parties. This chapter aims at offering an overview of the legal framework that supports people’s access to Web Services, according to the Semantic Web innovations. The basic aspects examined include: delegation, liability, privacy and e-identity. Finally, a specific section dedicated to e-business will give a dynamic approach to the analysis, so as to consent further developments on the other issues that Semantic Web implies.
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The Semantic Web is opening new opportunities for users to access the Web and enhancing the objectives that may be pursued in the Internet environment. The basic reason for this extension is a radical change of the Web’s nature. If we consider that until today the world wide Web, based on visual mark-up languages (HTML) has been designed for humans, then we should admit that the Semantic Web, based on machine-processable languages (RDF(S), DAML+OIL, and OWL), is going to see a relevant role of software agents. The Semantic Web for agents, however, is not meant as a replacement of our current Web but only as an extension of it. Along with this extension comes an enlargement in the spectrum of “people” populating the Web, in that agents and humans share a common space through semantic-dynamic data elaboration.

According to these considerations, the first step of a legal analysis of the Semantic Web should start from the relationship between human users and electronic agents to which goals and tasks are delegated and should be followed by the related liability aspects.

Afterwards, other crucial themes are privacy, data protection and e-identity, which analyse the consequences of a Web enabled to collect and process personal data with high usage opportunities and high risks at the same time.

A final survey on improved e-business’ services will confirm the opportunity of such investigation, highlighting further ideas for future studies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Software Agent’s Developer: The legal or natural person who manages a software agent’s development process and places the end product on the market.

Software Agent’s User: The natural or legal person under whose name the software agent was purchased. The natural person may be an employee of the legal person, and in this case liability will fall on the latter if the software agent causes damage.

Vicarious Liability: A person’s liability for the conduct of another, based on a relationship between these two persons.

Strict (or indirect) Liability: Liability without fault.

Knowledge Attribution: The juridical imputation of the information used by an agent to perform the goal delegated by someone else. This imputation could generate liability if such data are unfairly collected or improperly used.

Delegation: The fact of entitle someone to achieve a goal on behalf of himself.

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