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Distributing liability: the legal and political battles of Y2K

Mulvin, Dylan ORCID: 0000-0002-8925-2460 (2020) Distributing liability: the legal and political battles of Y2K. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. ISSN 1058-6180

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In 1999 the United States Congress passed the Y2K Act, a major—but temporary— effort at reshaping American tort law. The Act strictly limited the scope and applicability of lawsuits related to liability for the Year 2000 Problem. This paper excavates the process that led to the Act, including its unlikely signature by President Clinton. The history presented here is based on a reconsideration of the Y2K crisis as a major episode in the history of computing. The Act, and the Y2K crisis more broadly, expose the complex interconnections of software, code, and law at the end of the 20th century, and, taken seriously, argue for the appreciation of the role of liability in the history of technology.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Divisions: Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 17:18
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:59

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