Mon 16 Apr, 4.30pm: Anja Møller Pedersen (Copenhagen) – Reconciling the Right to Privacy with Freedom of Expression in the EU legal order

We are pleased to confirm that the next IP/IT/Media Law Discussion Group seminar will take place on Monday 16 April 2018 at 4.30pm, in Room LG.08, David Hume Tower. Our guest speaker, Anja Møller Pedersen from University of Copenhagen, will present her research on the following topic:

Reconciling the Right to Privacy with Freedom of Expression in the EU legal order

The fundamental rights to privacy, data protection and freedom of expression all play a crucial role in our everyday lives, online as well as offline. They are closely interrelated, but at the same time both mutually enforcing and conflicting. In my PhD, I seek to tease out their underlying rationales, and explore how they are reflected in EU law, and how they influence the ways in which the rights interact and conflict. In my presentation I will focus mainly on how the underlying rationales of privacy are reflected in EU law.

As always, all students and staff are welcome and no registration is required. The talk will be followed by a Q&A section as well as a further informal discussion, where refreshments will be provided.

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Fri 2 Mar, 4.30pm: Dr Kristina Irion (Amsterdam) – The Interface Between Privacy and Trade: The European Union Governance of Personal Data Flows and Digital Trade

We are delighted to announce that our first event of the IP/IT/Media Law Discussion Group seminar series this semester will take place on Friday 2 March 2018 at 4.30pm, in Room 1.01 David Hume TowerDr Kristina Irion from IViR, University of Amsterdam will present her latest research on the following topic:

The Interface Between Privacy and Trade:
The European Union Governance of Personal Data Flows and Digital Trade

The issue of global data flow, which underpins digital trade and economic cooperation between countries, has moved center stage in international trade relations. Next to astounding estimates on the positive feedback loop of global data flows on international trade, growth and welfare, conflicting public interests and policy objectives can easily appear subordinated. Among others the European Union’s (EU) strict data protection regime is now discussed as a new barrier to digital trade.

The trade and privacy interface has yet to be fully formed, both doctrinally and normatively. It is however clear that the relative success of claiming free data flows in international trade law will predestine the faith of privacy as a human right. The EU has a key role to play in the global governance of privacy, particularly regarding the protection of personal data. Aligning its normative approach to personal data protection with its external trade policy has been difficult but it seems the European Commission has reached a compromise.

In my talk I will juxtaposes the EU governance of the transfer of personal data to third countries and its trade policy in relation to free data flow commitments in next generation free trade agreements. This contribution will break through the present compartmentalisation of privacy scholarship and trade lawyers which has even divided EU institutions.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

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IPDG Events: Spring Semester 2018

Hi everyone!

We hope you all enjoyed the festive season and feel excited about the new semester as much as we do!

It’s been a while since our last event back in 2017, but we’re thrilled to announce that our IPDG seminar series are returning with an exciting line-up of events in the coming months.

To give you a sense of what’s coming up, here are the details of three confirmed talks taking place very soon (and we’re getting in touch with more speakers!):

The Interface Between Privacy and Trade:
The European Union Governance of Personal Data Flows and Digital Trade
Speaker: Dr Kristina Irion (IViR, University of Amsterdam)
Date: Friday 2 March 2018, 4.30PM
Venue: Room 1.01, David Hume Tower

Reconciling the Right to Privacy with Freedom of Expression
Speaker: Ms Anja Møller Pedersen (University of Copenhagen)
Date: Monday 16 April 2018, 4.30PM
Venue: Room LG.08, David Hume Tower

Global Online Copyright Infringement: Towards Uniform Standards of Liability
Speaker: Dr João Pedro Quintais (IViR, University of Amsterdam)
Date: Wednesday 16 May 2018, 4.30PM
Venue: Room 11.18, David Hume Tower
** PLEASE NOTE that there is a change of date/time from what was previously advertised.

We would also like to mention a SCRIPT guest seminar that might be of interest to you:

Is There a Right to Parody under Copyright Law?
Speaker: Dr Sabine Jacques (University of East Anglia)
Date: Monday 12 March 2018, 6.30-7.30PM
Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Appleton Tower
Signup: https://script_dr_jaques_seminar.eventbrite.co.uk

You might also want to have a look at the Controversies in the Data Society seminar series organised by the Edinburgh Futures Institute. More details of the series can be found here.

If you would like to stay informed of any updates, please join us on our mailing list using this link: http://tinyurl.com/ip-it-media-law

We hope to see many of you at the talks!

All the best,
Your convenors

Wed 14 June, 2pm: Silvia De Conca (Tilburg) – There is no place like home, Alexa: Intelligent Robotics, the house, and the protection of the private sphere

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event which will take place on Wednesday 14 June at 2pm in room 9.18 of David Hume Tower. Our speaker is Silvia de Conca, PhD researcher at Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society.

There is no place like home, Alexa: Intelligent Robotics, the house, and the protection of the private sphere  

Amazon Echo, Google Home, Buddy, Jibo, Cubic: home and personal assistant robots are a new type of service Robots for personal or consumer use. They embed the idea of a digital personal assistant to ease the daily life of individuals or families. To perform, the assistant must know its owners: their voices, their faces, their schedule, their friends. To perform efficiently, the assistant must also understand those information, learn, elaborate them, and extract the habits and tastes of its owners. In other words, the assistant must be provided with (artificial) intelligence. In this version of the future there is no humanoid robot with wheels and arms carrying out chores around the house, like Rosie from The Jetsons. In this version of the future there are decorative desk units which interact with the owners through voice command (“Alexa, play the morning playlist”, or “OK Google, increase the room temperature of…”) and complete their tasks by means of other devices connected to them (in the examples before, a speaker and Google Nest). How will the presence of this new kind of intelligent robots inside the home influence the very concept of private sphere? What role will the household environment play, for the protection and development of the private sphere?

After dissecting the main technological features common to this category of intelligent robots, the speaker will introduce three hypotheses of modalities in which the above mentioned technological features can influence the private sphere: with their ever-scanning presence, with the aggregation of data in the Cloud, and with the conversational interface.

The hypotheses, identified as passive sharing, aggregated privateness and conversational privacy, can deeply influence individual contextualization of what is private, and what belongs to the private sphere. The shift in the perception and definition of the private sphere can in turn influence significantly the implementation of the rules created to protect it. In conclusion, the connection will be traced between the way intelligent robotics in the house affect the very definition of private sphere and possible new criticalities that can be expected in the application of the European GDPR.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

Fri 12th May, 2pm: Judith Townend (Sussex) – Legal and technological vulnerabilities for journalistic sources and whistleblowers in a pre/post Brexit UK

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event which will take place on Friday 12th May at 2pm in Room 9.01 (the Neil MacCormick Room) of David Hume Tower. Our speaker is Judith Townend, lecturer in media and information law at the University of Sussex. Judith was previously director of the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, to which she remains affiliated, as an associate research fellow. Her research is broadly concerned with freedom of expression and access to information, and current interests include source/whistleblower protection, as well as access to courts and open justice.

Legal and technological vulnerabilities for journalistic sources and whistleblowers in a pre/post Brexit UK  

Disclosing information to the media or an NGO is often a last resort for a confidential source: an action taken when concerns have been ignored internally within organisations, or where there seems to be no other avenue open to them. It is not a decision taken lightly and, depending on the nature of the disclosure and the individual’s position, could risk their employment and have a knock-on impact on their finances, health and personal life. The weaker the legal and technological protection for communication between journalists and other relevant actors (such as NGOs), the less likely it is that an individual will come forward, and this has worrying consequences for protecting the public interest in a functioning democracy. 

Recent research at the IALS’ Information Law and Policy Centre, supported by Guardian News and Media, brought to the fore practical issues faced by journalists/NGOs working on important topics in the public interest. We identified a hybrid of legal and technological vulnerabilities threatening source confidentiality and secure communication. In light of these threats, we made a number of recommendations to practitioners and policymakers with view to improving the protections for sources in the UK; we raised particular concern with the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and the Digital Economy Bill 2016-17. The same month we launched our report in Parliament, another issue sprang up: the possibility of new legislation to reform the law on Official Secrets, as proposed by the Law Commission in its consultation closing in May.  

This presentation offers some of our key findings and discusses them in the context of a politically uncertain environment: Brexit ‘unknowns’, the shadow of Donald Trump (who has declared ‘war’ on anonymous sources), and ahead of the UK General Election on 8th June 2017.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

Tues 21st Mar, 4pm: Jef Ausloos (KU Leuven) – Ctrl-Alt-Delete: Tracing the Right to Erasure (‘right to be forgotten’) in EU Data Protection law

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event which will take place on Tuesday 21st March at 4pm in Room 1.18 of David Hume Tower. Our speaker is Jef Ausloos, a doctoral researcher at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law. Jef’s research focuses on the so-called right to be forgotten as well as the interaction of different fundamental rights and interests on the Internet. In his PhD (which he started in 2013) more specifically, he looks a the power (im)balance over personal data between individuals and online corporate entities. For more information, see Jef’s profile on the KU Leuven website.

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: Tracing the Right to Erasure (‘right to be forgotten’) in EU Data Protection law

Heavily debated over the past few years, the right to be erasure – a.k.a. the right to be forgotten – has been carved into EU law with the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) in April 2016. This seminar will set out the right’s (a) history and rationale, (b) scope of application and (c) what elements trigger its invokability.
Jef Ausloos will describe the right to erasure’s coming of age throughout the past decades and how it emerged from data protection law’s objective of empowering data subjects. An aim that is particularly topical in the context of the ubiquitous information society and the vast power asymmetries it precipitates. Because semantics matter, especially in law, Jef will briefly elucidate the difference between the right to erasure and related concepts. Next, Jef will present the main issues that arise when determining the GDPR’s scope of application in light of the right to erasure. These relate in particular to the material scope of application – i.e. what data does the right to erasure cover and to what extent – and personal scope of application – i.e. who should the right to erasure be directed to. He will then dissect Article 17 in the GDPR, explaining (a) the six ‘right to erasure triggers’, i.e. situations in which data subjects can invoke a right to erasure; (b) the obligation to communicate erasure requests to others; and (c) the exemptions to the right to erasure. Finally, Jef will draw some general conclusions as to the merits of the right to erasure in the information society and invites the audience to come up with suggestions and ideas on how to further assess this data protection right in light of online power asymmetries..

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

Wed 18th Jan, 2pm: Regulating decentralisation: the consequences of technological developments for legal design and enforcement (Dr Angela Daly, QUT)

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event which will take place on Wednesday 18th January at 2pm in room 2.29, 50 George Square. Our speaker, Dr Angela Daly is Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in QUT’s Faculty of Law, a research associate in the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society and a an adjunct research fellow in the Swinburne Institute for Social Research. She is a socio-legal scholar of technology and is the author of Socio-Legal Aspects of the 3D Printing Revolution (Palgrave 2016) and Mind The Gap: Private Power, Online Information Flows and EU Law (Hart 2016).

Regulating decentralisation: the consequences of technological developments for legal design and enforcement

Various technological developments over the last two decades, their accessibility to the average person (at least in the [over]developed economies of the Global North) and their socio-economic implementations have led to a decentralising effect on the nature of production and organisation. Prominent among these have been: the Internet (decentralised production & dissemination of information); 3D printing (decentralised production of [complex] objects); solar panels (decentralised production of energy); and the blockchain/bitcoin (decentralised production of money and decentralised documentation). The category of ‘prosumer’ i.e. empowered individuals who both produce as well as consume, has come to be used with regards to those engaging with these technological developments. However, these developments stand in stark contrast to the legal and regulatory systems, which have generally been designed in a more centralised era where production (in developed economies at least) has mainly taken place in mass form via the bureaucratic structures of the State and the Firm. 

This presentation will explore this seeming mismatch between these decentralising tendencies and law, and the implications for two issues in particular: the design of laws and the enforcement of laws. Both of these issues are related inasmuch as they operate under the assumption of Fordist mass production – an assumption that is ‘disrupted’ by technologically-mediated decentralisation.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

Fri 2nd Dec, 2pm: User-centric Regulation for the Domestic Internet of Things (Lachlan Urquhart, University of Nottingham)

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event which will take place on Friday 2 December at 2pm in the Neil MacCormick Room (9.01) of David Hume Tower. Our speaker, Lachlan Urquhart, previously studied at Edinburgh and is now a Research Fellow in Information Technology Law at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute (University of Nottingham). He will present on the following topic:

User-centric Regulation for the Domestic Internet of Things

Increasingly, technology designers are being called upon to address regulatory challenges posed by emerging technologies. However, their role in regulation is not settled and needs to be situated both conceptually and practically. We present a multidisciplinary response through examining what the field of human computer interaction (HCI) can offer. We do this by presenting a number of conceptual, empirical and design led perspectives from the interface between IT law and HCI. We ground these within the case study of doing information privacy by design for the domestic internet of things. HCI focuses on how users interact with technologies in practice. In designing user experiences, HCI practice draws on a range of approaches and concepts to develop a rich picture of the social context of technology use. By reframing these to consider regulatory and ethical dimensions, we argue the role of technology designers in regulation can be better understood. 

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

Understanding the Legal Issues of IANA Transition: What Next for ICANN after the End of US Control of the Internet? – upcoming talk by Dr Humberto Carrasco Blanc (Universidad Católica del Norte)

We are delighted to co-host this event with the Europa Research Group. It will take place on Wednesday 23 November 2016 at 5pm in Room 7.01 of the David Hume Tower. Our speaker will be Dr Humberto Carrasco Blanc (Universidad Católica del Norte), who will present on the following topic:

Understanding the Legal Issues of IANA Transition: What Next for ICANN after the End of US Control of the Internet?

This presentation aims to explain what ICANN is and its relationship with internet governance. It seeks to emphasise that ICANN does not govern the Internet, but it is one aspect of Internet governance. In this way, this presentation briefly explains its functions and its multi-stakeholder model.

In particular, the presentation develops the rationale behind the IANA transition process. For this purpose, the presentation reviews some of the arguments put forward by the US Senator Ted Cruz against the transition process. In the same vein, this work examines the federal case State of Arizona v. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that sought to halt the transition process.

Finally, the post-transition challenges faced by ICANN are reviewed.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.

Understanding Cryptocurrencies as Political Devices – Pablo Velasco (University of Warwick)

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event, taking place on Monday 14 November 2016 at 2pm in Room 11.01 of the David Hume Tower. Our speaker will be Pablo Velasco (University of Warwick), who will present on the following topic:

Understanding Cryptocurrencies as Political Devices

My dissertation project is concerned to understand Bitcoin (and hence Blockchain technology) from a critical perspective. I seek to identify the particular power dynamics performed by and through this technology. In order to do this, I systematically question what and where is Bitcoin, and how and which entities are involved in its transformations. I broadly refer to these transformations as the morphology of Bitcoin, and I consistently observe this morphology through a political and ontological prism. Each chapter of the dissertation adopts a different methodology and approach to answer the following broad questions:

1. Which politics were involved in the emergence of blockchains as new ‘organisms’ (and what is Bitcoin as a specific instance)? Why is bitcoin associated with money? What kind of knowledges, discourses and practices molded it as an economic instrument?

In the first part of the dissertation I argue that the emergence of Bitcoin was made possible by an assemblage of 1. An interest in secure communications through technology, 2. A subsequent addendum of political concerns to new comm tech, and 3. An intention to produce natively digital financial assets.

2. Which politics define the (material but elusive) space where this organism evolved? Which are the geopolitics of Bitcoin? In what kind of territorial or non-territorial space Bitcoin dwells?

In my second chapter I argue against the strong notions of immateriality and universality associated with the device by empirically describing the geographical distribution of its infrastructural network. However, I also claim that the political notion of territory is unfitting for a theoretical and critical approach to the object.

3. How these political changes take place, specifically in the socio-technical order shaping the technology? Is it possible to locate authority entities within it?

The third chapter observes decision making processes in the current configuration of Bitcoin, and identifies opposing vectors of action with their respective rationales. In this chapter I argue that its money properties challenge the traditional and key open source characteristic of forking. I also claim that due to its particular open, distributed, and headless (unlike other OSS projects) nature, there is an authority void that atypically transforms power performance among open projects.

4. How do forces in this non-territorial space claim control, or enact power, if authority is elusive? How are parties benefited by the enactment of device-specific power relations?

The fourth chapter is a work in progress. In it I expect to frame the Bitcoin blockchain within a political economy framework. The chapter will locate and reflect on the generation of native actors of this contested and non-territorial space, and how power is exercised between its stakeholers despite the lack of traditional authoritarian structures. It will observe the practices of production and regulation of money (practices traditionally managed by the state institutions) in Bitcoin, with the open question of how power is enacted in them and their contexts.

In this chapter I argue that even though the Bitcoin system is populated with an empowerment discourse, it’s unique affordance is not to restructure balance in relations of domination, but to grasp a much desired accountability and control in an inherently fluid and open system. Following the work of Michel Foucault, Scott Lash, Hardt and Negri, and the recent work of Benjamin Bratton I follow the shift from sovereign, institutional authority, and other forms of performance of power (both in state and corporation-like institutions), into non-territorial, open, and controlled communications systems.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.