Interaction in cyberspace plays a significant role in everyday activities largely through technologies interconnected via computers, and through social interactions on the internet. Smart devices may be driven entirely by a ‘smart’ computer using algorithms and artificial intelligence or open software, rely on distributed ledger technologies like the Blockchain to record transactions on a network or even to decentralise finance (DeFi), or facilitate payments through financial technology (fintech) like crypto assets. These ‘disruptive’ technologies have transformed the way we communicate, do business, and develop our creative works. However, while innovations permeate all domains of life, they also pose significant risks to human lifestyles such as the loss of ownership over digital assets, or the loss of personal data through illegal use of technologies.
The module investigates critical socio-legal (and technical) questions surrounding the implications of the use of technology upon the development of legal doctrine; 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 ‘disruptive’ technologies through law. You need to have an interest in the technology fundamentals (how they work) to gain a better understanding of how law could address the challenges posed by disruptive technologies (or not).
Indicative seminar topics:
- Disruptive technologies, cyberspace, and the modalities of regulation in the Cyber
- Code as law? Theories of rule by law and rule by technology (incl Lessig, Murray)
- Regulating the Internet- the Law of the Internet Platform
- The legal nature of Software
- Free and Open Source Software (I): Regulating Collaborative Authorship
- Free and Open Source Software (II): The Conundrum of Software Licensing
- Law of Distributed Ledger Technologies: Fintech (Cryptoassets) and the Blockchain
- Data subject’s rights and the powers of Big Tech: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)- Facebook and Google cases, and a Crypto/Blockchain Bill of Rights
- Data, Artificial Intelligence and data inequality