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What Is Digital Law?

To navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, it is important to understand the basic terminology and learn some of the relevant laws. Read on for a glossary of commonly used phrases in the digital conversation, then scroll down to see some of the key regulations that govern our digital lives.

Digital Context

Here are some of the key terms discussed in digital law:


Digital Law

Statutes, regulations, and policies that govern activities and communication using digital technologies, as well as security of digitally connected devices. 


Digital Media

Content and information comprised of data that can be created, viewed, heard, stored, or transmitted via an electronic device.


Digital Communication

The transmission or exchange of information encoded into digital signals and transmitted using digital technologies or infrastructure.


Cloud Application

A software program or platform that is hosted on an internet-accessed server rather than residing on a user’s local computing device or local server.


Internet of Things (IoT)

The aggregate global network of internet-connected devices, along with the data they collect and share with each other. 


Big Data

Massive amounts of data collected by organizations and connected devices about individuals, characteristics, and processes.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A task performed by a machine that, previously, would have required human intelligence to perform. 


Internet Law

Statutes, regulations, and policies that govern the architecture and use of the internet and its related applications. 


Digital Economy

The marketing, demand, payment, production, distribution, and consumption of goods, services, or information driven by data and conducted at least in part using digital means or digital infrastructure. 



Wide-bandwidth digital data transmission without the use of a telephone dial-up that allows for high-speed internet access.


Social Media

Platforms, networks, websites, and applications that enable individuals and groups to connect, communicate, and interact with each other in the digital space by creating, sharing, and reacting to content.


Connected Device

Any object embedded with one or more semiconductor computer chips that can communicate with the internet and with other such objects through a wired or wireless network or protocol. 



A set of rules or instructions programmed into a computing device for the purpose of performing a task or solving a problem.


Machine Learning

A subset of AI that enables a computing device to learn by itself without being specifically programmed to do so.


Digital Standards

Here are some of the key regulations governing digital law:

Key International Regulations and Guidelines

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — European Union

  • E-Privacy Regulation (EPR) — European Union

  • UK Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 — United Kingdom

  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPED Act, or PIPEDA) — Canada

  • Law on the Protection of Personal Data Held by Private Parties — Mexico

  • Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) (adopted by 11 countries in 2018 as a replacement for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which was never finalized after the U.S. abandoned it)  

State Digital Privacy

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

  • California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA)

  • Colorado Privacy Act (CPA)

  • Delaware Code § 1204C; Code 6, §§ 205C, 1206C 

  • Maine Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information; also 35-A MRSA § 9301 

  • Maryland Personal Information Protection Act (Security Breach Notification Requirements – Modifications, in legislation, House Bill 1154)

  • Massachusetts 201 CMR 17 (Mass Data Protection Law)

  • Massachusetts Bill H.4806 (consumer protection from security breaches, in legislation)

  • Minnesota Stat. §§ 325M.01 to .09

  • Nevada Personal Information Data Privacy Encryption Law NRS 603A; also NRS §§ 205.498; 603A.300, 603A.340

  • New Jersey (disclosure of breaches of security and amending P.L.2005, c.226, in legislation, S. 51)

  • New York State Department of Financial Services, Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies (23 NYCRR 500)

  • New York Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act

  • New York Privacy Act (in legislation)

  • Oregon Consumer Information Protection Act (OCIPA) SB 684; also ORS § 646.607

  • Pennsylvania 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 4107(a)(10)

  • Texas (privacy of personal identifying information and creating of the Texas Privacy Protection Advisory Council, in legislation)

  • Vermont 9 V.S.A § 2446-2447

  • Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA)

  • Washington (breach of security systems protecting personal information, in legislation, SHB 1071)

  • Invasion of Privacy torts

Digital Media and Intellectual Property

  • Lanham Act (also known as the Trademark Act of 1946)

  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA)

  • Digital Copyright Act of 2021 (DCA) - proposed in December 2020 

  • Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA)

  • Trademark Modernization Act of 2020

  • Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020

  • Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act)

  • Fair Use Doctrine

  • Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA)

  • Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) 

  • No Electronic Theft Act

  • Right of Publicity state laws

Digital Communication and Online Commerce

  • Communications Decency Act (CDA) 

  • First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution

  • Defamation, Libel, Slander, and Emotional Distress torts

  • Section 5 of The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act 

  • Federal Trade Commission Dot Com Disclosure Guidelines

  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

  • Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (Can-SPAM) Act

  • Federal Trade Commission Native Advertising Guidelines

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 (FCRA)

Internet Use and Safety

  • Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) 

  • Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) 

  • Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 (in legislation)

  • Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act (in legislation)

  • Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms (SAFE Tech) Act (in legislation)  

  • 18 U.S.C. § 2261A (Federal Stalking Laws, which apply to cyberstalking and using the Internet to cause substantial emotional distress to another)

  • California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018

Federal Digital Privacy

  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

  • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

  • Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (largely replaced or reformed)

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 (FCRA)

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)

  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (largely replaced or reformed)

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