Law in the Digital Era
An international conference entitled ‘Law in the Digital Era’ recently took place at the Higher School of Economics. Irina Bogdanovskaya, head of the HSE Laboratory of Information Law, told us about the results of the conference.
— This is the second annual conference on ‘Law in the Digital Era’. Has its status or format changed?
— The HSE educational and research Laboratory for Information Law, which was founded in 2010, regularly tries to summarize its work at conferences and unveil the results of research. These conferences attract Russian and international experts, so the scope of participants is continually expanding. We invited P. Wheeler (US National Academy of Sciences) to the first international seminar. The following year the laboratory organized the first ‘Law in the Digital Era’ conference, which attracted more international partners from different countries. Researchers from Great Britain, France, Belgium and Italy came to the second conference. In addition to these opportunities, the conference also has a practical dimension. The conference was opened by the HSE Vice Rector Andrey Klimenko, and Sergey Kamolov, First Deputy Minister for Information Technology and Communication of the Moscow Region Government, addressed the participants. The conference attracted both academic researchers and practicing lawyers. We are delighted that the event received positive evaluation in the legal community, and many of our Russian and international colleagues praised its high professional level.
— Which theoretical and practical issues are relevant today in the field of information law? Were they reflected in the topics of the papers?
— The conference covered various aspects of law development in the post-industrial era. This year the programme included several sections. During the first day there was a section entitled ‘IT. Business. Law’, where.the problems of development of law and IT industry were discussed. Pavel Sadovsky, senior lawyer and head of intellectual property practice at the ‘Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev and partners’ law firm, analyzed the amendments to the fourth part of the RF Civil Code and the consequences for the IT industry. Yana Chirko, senior lawyer at the ‘Stepanovsky, Papakul and partners’ company looked at the legal aspects of investment in Belorussian IT projects.
This section also included several subsections. The subsection on ‘Personal Data Protection’ considered the problems of personal data protection, including industrial laws, provision of their security and responsibility for legal violation in the area of personal data processing. Comparative legal aspects of personal data regulation in the EU were also analyzed. Professor Jos Dumortier from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law & ICT (ICRI), University KU Leuven, Belgium, spoke at the section. The subsection on ‘E-Commerce and Internet’ considered the problems of jurisdiction in e-commerce (Liudmila Terentieva, senior research fellow at our laboratory, spoke about this problem). The participants also discussed the problems of selecting applicable law in e-commerce, signing e-contracts with domestic and international clients, the correlation between national and international legal regulation of e-contracts, digital signatures and many other questions.
— As information technology develops, do you think some new problems will appear as the result of innovative processes in the IT sphere?
— Yes, I’m sure this is the case. A special subsection on ‘Information Security. Cloud Technologies. Law’ was dedicated to the new problem of cloud technologies. Participants discussed the specifics of various business models using cloud technology and types of distributed infrastructure, civil-law problems of cloud services (in particular, this topic was considered in the presentation given by Mikhail Basharov, lawyer at Baker Botts L.L.P.), and the problems of personal data protection, licensing, certification.
— What are the most popular topics among the professionals working in the area of information law?
— As usual, the topic of development of copyright in the digital era attracts a lot of interest. During the plenary session these issues were considered in the presentation by Alexander Silin, legal adviser at Google Russia. The discussion continued during the ‘IT. IP in the Digital Era’ section, which took place on the second day of the conference. Participants discussed trends in the development of copyright in EU countries, the responsibility of internet providers in the USA and Russia, forms of unfair competition in copyright creation and use, international trends of internet management in terms of intellectual property protection, and the legal and social aspects of intellectual property distribution in social and corporate networks and e-libraries. A constant interest among the professional audience is the problems of e-government. We had a special section dedicated to the problems of developing e-government and the specifics of each of the branches of government. The section entitled ‘E-Government and Democracy: Political and Legal Aspects’ was dedicated to the problems of e-justice, the legal aspects of e-government creation and the problems of e-democracy.
— The conference included a round-table discussion dedicated to the problems of teaching information law. Is there a course on information law at the HSEFaculty of Law? What are the current trends in teaching information law?
— At the HSE Faculty of Law there is a master’s programme on ‘Legal Informatics’ which certainly includes a course on information law. But as part of the undergraduate programme, the course on information law is elective. Information law is a rapidly developing area, that’s why courses connected to this discipline need to be constantly updated. By the way, there is also the question of teaching telecommunication law as a separate discipline.
— What is the research potential of the Laboratory of Information Law? Did the young researchers take part in the conference?
— The conference programme included presentations by young researchers. It is notable that this topic brought together researchers from different departments of the Faculty of Law as well as departments of other law universities. It is important that these young researchers have the opportunity to discuss their projects from different perspectives. Two research interns from our laboratory, Viktor Loshchilin and Nikita Danilov, spoke at the conference. In addition, this year the laboratory has organized not only an international conference, but also, for the first time, an International School of Cyber Law for young researchers, including students on undergraduate and master’s programmes.
— How high is the demand for lawyers in this area? In your view, should he or she have skills in information technology?
— Lawyers are becoming more and more necessary in the IT industry. Of course, such lawyers, in addition to their competencies in the legal sphere, should have some general knowledge of IT, and the rapid development of this sphere requires a constant updating of this knowledge.
— What are your plans for the next year?
— The laboratory has recently been working on the problem of access to information and knowledge in the context of information society formation. This is a complex problem, and it has several aspects. In fact, it is on the border of information and copyright law. I believe that next year we shall be able to expand the scope of the topics discussed, since more and more areas of law are being influenced by the consequences of developing information technology. But before next year we are planning one more important event which will also unveil the results of the recent conference – the International School of Cyber Law which will take place in July in the Moscow region.
Liudmila Mezentseva, HSE News Service
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