New Information Technologies Could Spark a Revolution in Contract Law
The HSE International Laboratory for Information Technology and Intellectual Property Law has conducted an International Summer School on Cyber Law (ISSC). One key topic was how blockchain technology influences traditional contract law.
Who took part?
The first meeting of the School attracted young researchers from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belarus, and Japan. They discussed conventional problems such as protecting personal data online, protecting copyright and patent rights, and some legal aspects relating to information security in the digital era.
The School programme also included visits to major law firms and IT companies, such as PwC, Yandex, and Google. Their experts gave lectures and organized case studies on topical issues of law in the digital environment. Representatives of IBM, Megafon, and Kaspersky Lab gave master classes on some of the most pressing problems in legal regulation in the IT/IP environment.
What’s new in the Russian practice?
The last summer school discussed problems related to implementing the ‘law on the right to be forgotten’ and requirements regarding the localization of personal data. Participants of this latest summer school agreed that Russian IT businesses have survived this period of adjustment to the new requirements, although they experienced certain differences. Many companies were able to compromise and find both technical and organizational solutions, ensuring they would not involve impassable barriers for online business.
However, Russia’s new set of antiterrorist amendments will add to the problems facing the IT industry. The telecommunications industry may stand to suffer the most from them, since the operators will be obliged to store data not only on communications, but also the message contents. This responsibility will add to the costs considerably.
This also limits the civil right to privacy and secrecy of communication. But this argument isn’t always accepted, so operators must focus not on the legal, but on the practical and economic consequences of such solutions.
Why contract law is expecting a revolution
A lecture entitled ‘Contract law 2.0. Will Smart Contract make obsolete classic contract law in the future?’ by Alexander Savelyev, senior research fellow at the HSE International Laboratory for Information Technology and Intellectual Property Law and legal advisor at IBMintroduced a brand new topic to the School.
He looked at how blockchain technologies (robotizing and unifying the contracting processes through mathematical algorithms) will influence traditional contract law. Blockchain technologies are expected to see transactions implemented and obligations performed ultimately and irreversibly.
But laws, in a legal sense, are not as unified and mandatory as their mathematical counterparts. Real life may involve situations that see obligations litigated and canceled. The key question that school participants were trying to solve was how to ensure the co-existence of ‘smart contracts’ based on blockchain technology and working methods of legal protection in contract law, in one legal system.
Some participants suggested the legal presumption of priority for ‘smart contracts’, and others suggested including options for cancelling obligations according to judicial orders in ‘smart contracts’ algorithms. Other alternatives were also put forward. Nevertheless, the discussion revealed that all these approaches had their shortcomings. It was obvious that new technologies can potentially cause a revolution in contract law. One conclusion was clear: lawyers are facing new challenges, which will need some effective solutions in the near future.
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The Continuing Professional Development Centre of the HSE Faculty of Computer Science has recently hosted the summer school 'Cardiogenetics: From Sequencing to Constructing a Cardio Panel'. The school programme was co-organised by the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Analytical Instrumentation and Institute of Spectroscopy and the Syntol company.
On August 28–30, HSE University’s Faculty of Computer Science held the 4th Summer School on Machine Learning in Bioinformatics. This year, 670 people registered for the event, and over 300 visited in person. The programme included lectures and seminars on various spheres of bioinformatics: applied bioinformatics and the bioinformatics of DNA, RNA, and proteins; elementary genomics; modern methods of data analysis and molecular biology. The lectures were complemented by practical tasks aimed at different levels of knowledge.
At the beginning of July, a summer school on software engineering was held at the HSE Faculty of Computer Science. This is the successor to the school on mobile applications development, which was held at the FCS from 2015 to 2022. The school’s partners for this event included 1C, Sber, the community of authors of the Indicator games, and the Samsung Innovation Campus IT School.
From July 4–8, the 14th Summer School ‘Methods and Tools for Analysing Social Networks’ was held by the International Laboratory for Applied Network Research (ANR Lab). The dissemination of knowledge about the most recent methods of network analysis is one of the goals of the laboratory. Social network analysis is an interdisciplinary field that studies networks of interactions between different objects (such as people, organisations, institutions, countries, words in texts, texts on the internet) and identifying hidden patterns within them.
In early July, HSE Faculty of Computer Science held the 2nd Summer School on Entrepreneurship. It was organised by the faculty Centre for Internships, Projects and Entrepreneurshiptogether with Tinkoff Bank, and industry partners including Yandex, Sber Student and Otkritie Bank. More than 40 students from the Faculty of Computer Science and other HSE faculties took part in the school.
The summer school 'Space in/for Environmental Humanities: Reconsidering the Global through Studying Peripheries' explored the impact of human activity on natural environments and their transformation. It was co-organised by the School of Environmental and Social Studies (Anthroposchool) at the University of Tyumen (TSU) and the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI), with support from the Mirror Labs programme of HSE University.
Between August 23rd and 25th, the HSE Faculty of Computer Science held its annual summer school on machine learning in bioinformatics. After two years of being held online, the school returned to an offline format for this year. Over three days, more than 120 participants attended lectures and seminars by leading experts in the field from institutions such as HSE University, Skoltech, AIRI, MSU, MIPT, Genotek, and Sber Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
At the end of August, the Centre for Internships, Projects and Entrepreneurship of the Faculty of Computer Science, with support from the HSE University Business Incubator, held the first summer school on entrepreneurship. More than 40 HSE University bachelor’s and master’s students participated in it. The school was aimed at developing the students’ entrepreneurial skills and introducing them to the art of presenting ideas and products.
The ICEF Summer Bridge School prepares students from various countries and universities for their master’s studies. It is a short-term summer programme for students of bachelor’s and master’s programmes who are planning to apply to the Master’s in Financial Economics at ICEF and similar master’s programmes at other universities in the coming year. The participants of this year’s School included students from Uzbekistan, Russia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, Italy, Armenia, Nigeria, China, Turkey, and others.