Electronic Contracting: Assent or Illusion?

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 7:00pm
Stephen Y. Chow, Partner, Perkins, Smith & Cohen LLP, http://www.pscboston.com

If someone hands you a hundred-page stack of paper and asks you to sign, you wouldn't unless you at least browsed through the stack. Yet the overwhelming majority of us will click on 'agree' to get to the next screen on line without first following a link to what might be the same stack of information. Digital technology makes information highly accessible using a serial paradigm, but may blind us to valuable out-of-band information. Thus, despite the potential of asymmetric cryptography to guarantee that a message was generated by the holder of a particular private key, important deals use 'real-world anchors.' Yet controversial laws such as the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act ('UCITA', enacted in Maryland and Virginia) would formalize 'manifestation of assent after an opportunity to review terms' as contractually binding a party to those terms.

This is a joint meeting with the IEEE Computer Society, and the IEEE Social Implications of Technology (SIT) Society.

Lecturer Biography: 

Presenting will be Steve Chow, a patent attorney, an associate member of IEEE, and a dissenting member of the committee that drafted UCITA. Steve is the author of the legal treatise, 'E-Commerce and Communications' and teaches both litigation and corporate law at Suffolk University Law School. He graduated from Harvard University with bachelor and master degrees in physics and from Columbia University School of Law and enjoys working with start-up enterprises with new technologies.