chapter  16
16 Pages

Code, Access and Control

‘Computer-conscious law making’
ByJon Bing

The new information technology at this time (1960s) offered the ability to computerise certain procedures and decisions.3 These may be considered rather trivial compared to the potential of current technology, but do – it is suggested – offer some valuable insights. Take, for instance, the first example of a legal provision explicitly amended to allow for computerisation. This was an amendment of 18 July 1958 regarding a certain deduction employees could claim against their tax.4 The amendment changed the sum which could be deducted from 562 DM to 564 DM. The reason was simply that 562 could not be divided by 12; therefore, the system had to retain data on how much had already been deducted during the year in fractions of Deutschmarks in order to make the monthly sum exact. As 564 can be divided by 12, it became unnecessary to retain data on the sum already deducted – it was the same amount each month. In this way, the regulation5 was adapted in order to make the use of information technology more efficient. Perhaps this example is so trivial that it obscures the point, which is the interdependency between the computerised systems and the regulation.