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.

A Bridge Too Far? The Investigatory Powers Bill, Oversight and Human Rights – upcoming talk by Dr Nóra Ni Loideain (University of Cambridge)

We are delighted to announce our third event of the Semester will take place on 11 November 2016 at 5pm in the Neil MacCormick Room (Room 9.01) in David Hume Tower. Our speaker will be Dr Nóra Ni Loideain (Cambridge University), who will present on the following topic:

A Bridge Too Far? The Investigatory Powers Bill, Oversight and Human Rights

Unquestionably, the depth and breath of information concerning an individual’s private life that modern communications reveal has made its monitoring an essential and important tool for national security and law enforcement authorities around the world. One striking example of this fact has been provided by General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA, when he confirmed the high value placed on communications surveillance by such public authorities with the following statement: “We kill people based on metadata”.

However, while the major opportunities provided by technological advances for public safety are welcome, they should not be adopted without the fundamental human rights principles and oversight requirements that exist to prevent measures that pose to destroy democracy on the ground of defending it. Accordingly, the need to ensure that the role played by human rights law in the oversight of covert surveillance and data processing frameworks by the State will only grow with the rise of datadriven and artificial intelligence systems that will underpin our future smart cars, homes and cities. This paper examines the compliance of the imminent reform to the current oversight regime governing the use of covert investigatory powers by public authorities within the UK under the Investigatory Powers Bill with the rights to respect for private life and data protection. In particular, the reform of this increasingly complex area of law and technology is examined in light of the bold commitment made by the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, that the Bill will establish a “world-leading oversight regime”.

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.

The Logical Space of Algocracy: A Guide to the Territory – upcoming talk by Dr John Danaher (NUI Galway)

We are delighted to announce another November event, taking place on 25 November 2016 at 4pm in Room 1.18 of the David Hume Tower. Our speaker will be Dr John Danaher (NUI Galway), who will present on the following topic:

The Logical Space of Algocracy: A Guide to the Territory

An ‘algocracy’ can be defined as any governance system in which computer-coded algorithms structure, nudge, influence, constrain, control (etc.) the behaviour of its human subjects. In recent years, several authors have expressed concerns about the rise of such algocratic governance systems, suggesting that they have important repercussions for the future transparency, fairness and efficiency of governance. Although I agree with many of these authors, I argue that the extant discussions of this phenomenon are lacking in nuance. There are many different types of algocratic system. Some are unexceptional, some are welcome, and some are worrisome. To date, authors have tended to only distinguish between 2-3 or three different types. To get a clearer picture of the landscape of possibilities, I take Christian List’s framework for mapping out the logical space of democratic decision-procedures and apply it to the algocracy debate. I argue that for any given system there are at least 4^4 different types of algocracy. I then provide a quick guide to some of the more significant possibilities within that logical space, highlighting the legal, ethical and political issues they may raise.

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.

Surveillance and the Common Good – upcoming talk by Dr Eric Stoddart (St Andrews)

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 Monday 31 October at 2pm in Neil MacCormick Room (Room 9.01), David Hume TowerDr Eric Stoddart from University of St Andrews will present on the following topic:

Surveillance and the Common Good: Why Privacy Concerns Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Privacy concerns are important but whilst they address individuals’ rights they tend not to open up questions around the impact of surveillance upon groups in particular contexts. The Common Good offers a multi-dimensional critique of surveillance and has possibilities for promoting an optics of hope for surveillance that might contribute to human flourishing.
 
This paper explores synoptic surveillance (the many ‘us’ watching the few ‘them’). It places contemporary surveillance within the context of media (mis-)representations of already marginalised groups, e.g. welfare claimants, people who ‘look Muslim’, and immigrants.
 
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.
 
 

A warm welcome to our new and returning students!

As the new academic year begins, we would like to extend our warmest welcome to all our new students joining us at Edinburgh Law School, as well as those who will continue their studies in the coming year.

We are delighted to announce that the IP/IT/Media Law Discussion Group will go on to present a series of events this semester. We are still working on finalising the details, but here is a glimpse of what we are going to offer in the next couple of months:

  • Surveillance and the Common Good: Why Privacy Concerns Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg
    Dr Eric Stoddart (St Andrews) – 31 Oct 2016 (2pm, Neil MacCormick Room (Room 9.01), David Hume Tower)
  • How Does Article 102 TFEU Regulate the IT Industries? The Microsoft Case, the Intel Case, and Recent Developments
    Dr Kuo-lien Hsieh(National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan) – 8 Nov 2016 (2pm, Room 1.203, 7 Bristo Square)
  • A Bridge Too Far? The Investigatory Powers Bill, Oversight and Human Rights
    Dr Nora Ni Loideain (Cambridge) – 11 Nov 2016 (5pm, Neil MacCormick Room (Room 9.01), David Hume Tower)
  • Understanding Cryptocurrencies as Political Devices
    Pablo Velasco (Warwick) – 14 Nov 2016 (2pm, Room 11.01, David Hume Tower)
  • The Logical Space of Algocracy: A Guide to the Territory
    Dr John Danaher (NUI Galway) – 25 Nov 2016 (4pm, Room 1.18, David Hume Tower)

All venues and times will be confirmed very soon. A handful of more speakers are also in touch and we will provide further updates once they are available. So stay tuned, and subscribe to our mailing list (if you haven’t):
http://tinyurl.com/ip-it-media-law

This year, our fellow PhDs Laurence Diver, Matthew Jewell and Wenlong Li have joined the team as co-convenors.

We hope to see many of you soon in our events!

Exploring the efficiency of blocking injunctions in online copyright enforcement

Coming close to the end of this semester, our next IP/IT/Media Law Discussion Group event will take place on Thursday 19 May 2016 at 2pm in Room B1.09, Outreach Centre (Holyrood Road). Bianca Hanuz from University of Liverpool will be presenting on the following topic:

Exploring the efficiency of blocking injunctions in online copyright enforcement

Internet service providers intermediaries are central to the enforcement system as they are considered the ‘gatekeepers’ of the internet, therefore considered to in the best position to manage the flooding copyright infringing traffic.[1] As such, the three directives[2] that govern the use copyright protected material online allow right holders to seek a remedy against the intermediary service provider where their service is used by third parties to infringe.[3] In the situation where it is impossible for right holders to identify the managers of infringing websites and it is unpopular to pursue individual infringers, right holders ask courts to order injunctions against online intermediaries which require the intermediaries to block user access to illegal sites. This method of copyright enforcement is now mainstream, which results from the fact that blocking orders are relatively easy to obtain as internet service providers (ISP) do not oppose applications and the blocking measures are relatively cheap to implement.[4]

Questions of efficiency arise as the injunction remedy provides only a post factum solution. Injunctions therefore do not address the root of the problem, which still remains after the block is put in place. This presentation will discuss the effectiveness of the injunctions in online copyright enforcement and present some solutions.

As always, this event is non-ticketed and everyone is welcome. The presentation will be followed by an informal discussion with refreshments provided.

 

Notes:
[1] Recital 59 Directive 2004/48 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights [2004] OJ L157/45
[2] ’Directive 2000/31 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market [2000] OJ L178/1; Directive 2001/29 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society [2001] OJ L167/10 (thereinafter InfoSoc Directive); Directive 2004/48 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights [2004] OJ L157/45
[3] art 8(3)
[4] Cartier International and Others vs BSkyB and others [2014] EWHC 3354 (Ch) at para 4, 239-253