Syllabus and general information for FT01: Information Technology, Law, and Society (Fall 1998)


Like all First Term Seminar classes at Gustavus, this one will give you the opportunity to build the abilities of a scholar: The course will be organized around the following questions:

Office hours

I will be available in my office (OHS 303) 8:00-8:50 Tuesdays, 10:30-12:20 Wednesdays, 1:30-2:20 Fridays, and by appointment. You may send me electronic mail at or call me at extension 7466. I'll try to put any temporary updates to my office hours on my web page and any long-term updates on my on-line schedule, so check there if in doubt.

World Wide Web

All course handouts will be available through my World Wide Web page, and some supplementary materials may be available there as well. The URL for this course is

Text and readings

Much of our reading on the conflict between the privacy of communication and the needs of law enforcement and national security will be from Diffie and Landau's book, Privacy on the Line. The remainder of our reading on that topic, and all of our reading on the conflict between free speech and protecting children, will be from a collection of readings. We will also refer to Hacker's A Writer's Reference as needed in our coverage of writing.

Writing assignments

You will write the following in this course: Regarding the journal writing on each day's reading: you can use this to highlight specific points to ask about or comment on, and you can also use it to react more holistically to the reading. Both of these are essential to ensure that you get the most out of the reading and are able to participate in discussion. Sometimes I may make additional specific suggestions about what you should be looking for and writing about in the next day's reading.

I will ask you to turn in your entries each day so I can look them over, so they should be done in a three-ring binder or the like. I won't carefully mark up and grade the journal entries, but rather just look them through as a source of insight into your learning process. For grading purposes, I will simply count how many non-sham journal entries I received from you. If you turn in a non-sham entry each day, you will receive full credit for that component of the course grade.

In your journal writing, you should reflect not only on the content of the reading, but also on such issues as

Be sure you take your writing seriously not only while doing it, but also during in-class discussion. Otherwise, your thinking will be the product of the discussion, rather than the discussion being the product of your thought. Resist the temptation to throw out your pre-discussion ideas as "wrong" and instead echo my own views or those of the class show-off - your views are every bit as valid.

Many students want to know how long their journal entries should be. There is no one right answer, in that it depends on the reading and how you respond to it. However, a typical entry will occupy a substantial fraction of a page. If a reading has many unfamiliar ideas or noteworthy points, you may find yourself making a long "laundry list" of them, while other readings may have far fewer individual points to flag. However, any reading deserves at least a good paragraph of summary and reflection.

Oral presentations

In addition to the informal class discussions that will be the mainstay of our course, you will be required to address the class on two occasions. The first will be short and simple, intended to give you a "warm-up" experience in addressing a group. Specifically, you will be expected to summarize to the class a news story related to our course. The syllabus has 16 days marked with news 1 through news 16; again, we will use the lottery on the first day of class to assign one of these to each of you. On your day, you will need to summarize to the class a news story that appeared within the past week. Note that the news presentations are spaced at roughly half-week intervals, so that in addition to picking a story that appeared in the past week, you'll need to make sure it isn't the same one that was presented to the class a few days earlier. Your first choice should be news stories concerning civil liberties and the internet. If you can't find any of those, your second choice should be news stories concerning other areas where values questions concerning information technology are being played out in the legal arena. Your third choice should be other stories that either concern civil liberties or the internet, but not both. Your last choice (which shouldn't happen, normally) would be any other news story you think is interesting.

The second oral presentation you make to the class will be a 20-minute summary of your research paper. You will need to carefully plan this presentation and rehearse it. I will distribute more information concerning this presentation together with the information on the research paper.


Any substantive contribution to your writing by another person or taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing. Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary action.

Late assignments

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction thereof.

If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Grade changes

Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading, and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I have been especially unjust.


I will give you a letter grade for each writing assignment and for the oral presentation to help you keep track of your standing in the class. If you have any questions about your standing, please ask. I reserve the right to adjust your grade under unusual circumstances. However, normally your course grade will be calculated from the grades on the individual course components in accordance with the following percentages:
Journal writing (27 days at 1/2% per day)13.5%
Essays that are not resubmitted (2 at 10%)20%
First submission of resubmitted essay6.5%
Second submission of resubmitted essay10%
Research paper10%
Oral research presentation10%
Final exam20%


If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accommodations, please let me know during the first week of class so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to Rebecca Cory in the Advising Center (204 Johnson Student Union.) All discussions will remain confidential.


In the reading column, DL indicates the book by Diffie and Landau, while R indicates a reading from our reader. Numbers after DL indicate chapters, and numbers after R indicate reading numbers in the reader. When the reading for a day is indicated as going to a particular page number, I mean that you should read up to the heading appearing on that page. The reading for the subsequent day starts at that heading.

In the due column, you will only be responsible for one of the 16 news items and one of the 16 papers, in accordance with the lottery we do on the first day of class. Essays 1-4, on the other hand, are for everyone - not just those with lottery numbers 1-4. However, keep in mind that you should substitute a letter for one of essays 2-4.

This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material. However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised syllabi.
9/11R1, R2Tribe and constitutional rights

9/14DL1, DL2Cryptography
9/15DL3Cryptography policynews 1
9/17DL4National security
9/18Writingnews 2; draft of essay 1

9/21DL5Law enforcementessay 1
9/22DL6Privacynews 3
9/25How's it going?news 4

9/28DL8, handoutCommunication policy; 4th amendment history
9/29R3Digital telephony debatenews 5
10/1R4CALEA aftermath
10/2Rebecca Cory of the Advising Centernews 6

10/5Digital telephony/CALEA continuedessay 2
10/8Public speakingnews 7
10/9DL9, DL10Cryptography policy developments

10/12R5-p.882Lessig on the Constitution in cyberspace
10/13R5-p.895Lessig on zoning cyberspacenews 8
10/15R5Lessig's conclusions about cyberspace
10/16Writingnews 9

10/19R6(majority)Reno v. ACLU
10/20R6(O'Connor)O'Connor's opinionnews 10
10/22R7, R8After Reno

10/27Jeff Stocco of the Career Centeressay 3; news 11
10/29R9(I-II)Volokh's analysis of Reno
10/30R9(III-IV.B.2)Volokh on alternative doctrinesnews 12

11/2R9(IV.B.3-V)More of Volokh on doctrines
11/3R10, R11, R12International comparisonsnews 13
11/5R13, R14PICS
11/6Carol Moline of International Educationnews 14

11/9R15-p.21Lessig on regulating speechessay 4
11/10R15-p.38More of Lessig on speechnews 15
11/12R15Lessig's conclusions on regulating speech
11/13Advising for January/Spring registrationnews 16

11/17R17, R18, R19, R20Kathleen R. and Hennepin County

11/23Student presentations 1 and 2papers 15 and 16
11/24Student presentations 3 and 4papers 13 and 14

11/30Student presentations 5 and 6papers 11 and 12
12/1Student presentations 7 and 8papers 9 and 10
12/3Student presentations 9 and 10papers 7 and 8
12/4Sara Pekarna of Community Service

12/7Student presentations 11 and 12papers 5 and 6
12/8Student presentations 13 and 14papers 3 and 4
12/10Student presentations 15 and 16papers 1 and 2
12/11Review/evaluationrewritten essay

12/16Final exam, 3:30-5:30pm (tentative)

Course web site:
Instructor: Max Hailperin <>