LLM Elements of Cyberlaw

Teaching and assessment (2018-19): Semester 1, 1 x 6,000 word essay

Module description:

Interaction in cyberspace plays a significant role in everyday activities through computational power and interconnected technologies. Smart devices may well be driven entirely by a ‘smart’ computer using algorithms and artificial intelligence, rely on distributed ledger technologies like the Blockchain that records every transaction, or facilitate payments through financial technology (fintech) like cryptocurrencies. These emergent technologies interconnected via computers and largely through social interactions on the internet, have transformed the way we communicate, do business, and develop our creative works (ideas). While innovations lead the evolution of societies and permeate all domains of life, they also pose significant risks to human lifestyles.

This module considers five broad areas of cyber law as a regulatory tool: the control of disruptive cyber activities and technologies; internet governance; cyber-property; cyber-rights; and cybercrime, that are underpinned by regulatory and governance theory, internet policy and legal doctrine. The module investigates critical legal and political questions surrounding the implications of the use of technology and digital information devices; the influence of social norms, values and interests on the regulatory design of cyberspace; and the intended and unintended consequences of regulating the use of interconnected technologies in cyberspace.

The module begins by exploring the theory and evidence underpinning different views on the regulation of activities in cyberspace. The sessions cover the law and jurisprudence on nascent problems surrounding internet neutrality, rights of data subjects in areas like data privacy, obligations of providers on data security, and cybercrime. You need to have an interest in the way the technologies work in order to gain a better understanding of how law could address the challenges posed by emergent technologies (or not). Where appropriate, the module draws comparisons with legislation, case law and policy from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Council of Europe, and other regions.

Indicative seminar topics:

  • Cyberspace and the place for Cyberlaw
  • Law and modalities of regulation of technologies in cyberspace
  • Alternative regulatory models and non-regulatory spaces like the Dark Web
  • Internet Governance, human rights and Net neutrality
  • Regulating distributed ledger technologies: Crypto currencies and the Blockchain
  • Cyber-property – the changing nature of digital ownership, protection and control: the law of the Platform
  • Cyber rights: data protection, transfer and data privacy including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2018) and Max Schrems v Facebook cases
  • Conflict between data subject’s rights and powers of online platforms – right to be forgotten: Google cases
  • Cybercrime: computers as a target and as tool for cybercrime. Effectiveness of Regional Conventions on Cybercrime as regulatory tools - European Convention on Cybercrime (2001), African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (2014)
  • Cyberlaw for the future – Cloud computing, AI and beyond; and a revision session