All technologies can be used for good or for ill. They can be used to serve society or harm it….Public policy will determine in large measure…how much benefit will be derived from constructive uses of this remarkable technology.
—National Research Council
In the epigraph quotation, the National Research Council (1996) speaks specifically of cryptography, but this observation applies to software technology and its effects as well as to other technologies. Today's market-based approach to information technology (IT) and its applications is effective in promulgating wide use and commercial exploitation. It still leaves many essential roles for government. These include grants and protections of property rights, a legal basis for the licensing of software, regulating some aspects of the market economy, ensuring the continued rapid advance in technology, and limiting some possible injurious effects of IT. In this chapter we discuss these roles of government, focusing on details that most directly relate to software technology.