Category Archives: IALS

Reflections on ‘Freedom of Information’ at 250

Freedom of Information Act Sweden and Finland 1766

In December 2016, the Information Law and Policy Centre co-organised an event celebrating the 250th anniversary of the world’s first law providing a right to information. It was hosted by free expression NGO, Article 19 at the Free Word Centre and supported by the Embassies of Sweden and Finland. A full programme of the event and the audio files are available on the Campaign for Freedom of Information website. In this post, Judith Townend and Daniel Bennett reflect on a few of the key themes discussed at the event. 

Accessing information may no longer feel like a pressing problem. We live in an age of global telecommunications, the internet and the smartphone with access to ubiquitous 24/7 media coverage on demand. Our data is collected, tracked, mapped and analysed by social media networks, search engines, commercial enterprises, governments and public authorities around the world. And yet, 250 years after the first law providing for a right to information was passed, the right for us – the public – to access information relating to the administration of state power remains a struggle.

Our ‘Freedom of Information at 250’ event sought to put this struggle into its historical context. The event celebrated and commemorated the signing into law of ‘His Majesty’s Gracious Ordinance Relating to Freedom of Writing and of the Press’ on 2nd December 1766.¹ Enacted by the Riksdag (parliament) of Sweden – which then also included Finland – this was the world’s first law to promise public access to governmental information. Continue reading

The Bubble Reputation: Protecting, Inflating, Deflating and Preserving It

james-michael-ialsVenue:  Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5DR
6pm – 8pm, 8 March 2017

Booking: This event is free but advanced registration is required using the IALS Events Calendar.  

Speaker: James Michael, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS; Chair, IALS Information Law and Policy Centre

The Bubble Reputation: Protecting, Inflating, Deflating and Preserving It (or a Right to be Known, Unknown and Remembered?)

Does, or should, everyone have a right to a reputation, and if so, should that be the reputation that is desired, deserved, or created? If there is a right to a reputation, should it be malleable to the point of infinity, to be extended, amended, or deleted? And is a posthumous reputation the property of the dead, the next of kin, or a larger community? Cases and statutes from various jurisdictions give varying answers, sometimes reflecting national and regional cultural and historical differences, but the contrasts may point the way for international standards.

Information Law and Policy Centre appoints new director

n__ni_loideain new director of the Information Law and Policy CentreDr Nora Ni Loideain, a scholar in governance, human rights and technology, has been appointed director of the Information Law and Policy Centre (ILPC) at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), one of nine research institutes of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Currently a postdoctoral research associate for the technology and democracy project at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Dr Ni Loideain takes up her new role at IALS in May.

The Information Law and Policy Centre opened in 2015. Its mission is to extend the institute’s research into how law both restricts and enables the sharing and dissemination of different types of information and provide a physical and virtual meeting place for those active in the area.

Issues the Centre will look at include data access and ownership rights, privacy and confidentiality, the malicious use and misuse of data, freedom of information and legal publishing (both commercial and free-to-internet). It is also interested in trends in scholarly communication relating to legal studies.

Dr Ni Loideain was awarded her PhD in law from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research examined the impact of the ‘right to privacy’ on the EU Data Retention Directive which mandated the mass retention of EU citizens’ communications metadata for national security and law enforcement purposes.

Previously she clerked for the Irish Supreme Court and was a legal and policy officer for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of Ireland. Her research interests and publications focus on governance, human rights and technology, particularly in the fields of digital privacy, data protection and state surveillance.

She is also an affiliated lecturer at the Cambridge Faculty of Law, a visiting lecturer for the LL.M. Privacy and Information Law module at King’s College London and a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Humanities.

‘The institute welcomes Dr Ni Loideain to contribute to this dynamic area of interdisciplinary research on information law and policy which affects everyone’s daily life,’ says Jules Winterton, director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

‘Under Dr Ni Loideain’s leadership the Centre will provide a base for important and timely academic activity in this area, pursuing its own research and also aligning with the institute’s mission to promote and facilitate the research of others in the UK and beyond.’

Commenting on her new role, Dr Ni Loideain confirms she is ‘delighted to have been appointed as the director of the Information Law and Policy Centre. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the excellent work of the Centre and to carry on the successes of the previous director, Dr Judith Townend.’

Network Neutrality: From policy to law to regulation

network-neutrality-coverBook launch at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London WC1B 5DR
6pm – 8pm, 9 February 2017

This event is FREE but advanced booking is required on the IALS Events Calendar

Speaker: Professor Christopher T. Marsden: Professor of Internet Law, (University of Sussex Law School)

Discussants: Dr Angela Daly, Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, (Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Law); Research Associate, Tilburg Institute of Law, Technology and Society; Professor Ian Walden, Professor of Information and Communications Law, (Queen May, University of London.)

Net neutrality is the most contested Internet access policy of our time. This book offers an in-depth explanation of the concept, addressing its history since 1999, its engineering, the policy challenges it represents and its legislation and regulation.

Various case studies are presented, including Specialized Services and Content Delivery Networks for video over the Internet, and the book goes on to examine the future of net neutrality battles in Europe, the United States and developing countries, as well as offering co-regulatory solutions based on FRAND and non-exclusivity.

It will be a must-read for researchers and advocates in the net neutrality debate, as well as those interested in the context of communications regulation, law and economic regulation, human rights discourse and policy, and the impact of science and engineering on policy and governance.

This seminar will be followed by the book launch of “Network Neutrality: From Policy to Law to Regulation” by Christopher Marsden, (Manchester University Press, 2017).

Freedom of Information at 250: now on Storify

Last week, Article 19 held the ‘Freedom of Information at 250‘ event at the Free Word Centre. The aim of the event was to commemorate, celebrate and scrutinise the adoption of the first freedom of information law in Sweden and Finland in 1766.

Participants also discussed the relevance and significance of the law today and the future of freedom of information, in a national and global context.

There was a range of speakers on the day including Maurice Frankel and Des Wilson from the Campaign for Freedom of Information (CFOI), the new Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, and Lord James Wallace of Tankerness, former member of Scottish Government, who piloted the Freedom of Information Act through the Scottish Parliament.

We have collected a number of tweets from participants at the event using #FOI250 and published them on Storify to help capture the flavour of the discussions which took place.

The collection documents the two moderated discussions and the evening panel. There is also a list of resources and reaction at the end of the collection. Click here or on the image below to view the Storify collection.

foi250-event-storify

Freedom of Information at 250 was an Article 19 event held at the Free Word Centre with the support of the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and the Embassies of Sweden and Finland.

The Competence of the European Union in Copyright Lawmaking

competence-of-eu-in-copyright-lawmakingBook launch event at the IALS
6pm – 8pm, 15 Dec 2016

Register online at Eventbrite to book your free ticket

Speaker: Dr Ana Ramalho, Assistant Professor of Intellectual Property, Maastricht University

Discussant: Professor Lionel Bently, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property and Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, University of Cambridge.

In this seminar Ana Ramalho will discuss her new book, which inquires into the competence of the EU to legislate in the field of copyright and uses content analysis techniques to demonstrate the existence of a normative gap in copyright lawmaking.

To address that gap Ana Ramalho proposes the creation of benchmarks of legislative activity, reasoning that EU secondary legislation, such as directives and regulations, should be based on higher sources of law.

In the book she investigates two such possible sources: the activity of the EU Court of Justice in the pre-legislative era and the EU treaties. From these sources Ana Ramalho establishes concrete benchmarks of legislative activity, which she then tests by applying them to current EU copyright legislation.

This provides examples of good and bad practices in copyright lawmaking and also shows how the benchmarks could be implemented in copyright legislation. Finally, Ana Ramalho offers some recommendations in this regard.

This seminar will be followed by the book launch of “The Competence of the European Union in Copyright Lawmaking: A Normative Perspective of EU Powers for Copyright Harmonization” by Ana Ramalho

Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual workshop highlights new challenges in balancing competing human rights

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Our annual workshop and lecture – held earlier this month – brought together a wide range of legal academics, lawyers, policy-makers and interested parties to discuss the future of human rights and digital information control.

A number of key themes emerged in our panel sessions including the tensions present in balancing Article 8 and Article 10 rights; the new algorithmic and informational power of commercial actors; the challenges for law enforcement; the liability of online intermediaries; and future technological developments.

The following write up of the event offers a very brief summary report of each panel and of Rosemary Jay’s evening lecture.

Morning Session

Panel A: Social media, online privacy and shaming

Helen James and Emma Nottingham (University of Winchester) began the panel by presenting their research (with Marion Oswald) into the legal and ethical issues raised by the depiction of young children in broadcast TV programmes such as The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds. They were also concerned with the live-tweeting which accompanied these programmes, noting that very abusive tweets could be directed towards children taking part in the programmes.

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Applications open…Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Law & Director: Information Law and Policy Centre

As readers of this blog might already be aware our first Director, Dr Judith Townend, has moved on to a new post at the University of Sussex. This means the Information Law and Policy Centre is now looking for a new Director…

“The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of the School of Advanced Study is now seeking a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Law and Director: Information Law and Policy Centre.

“The role will be responsible for developing the research promotion and facilitation, teaching/training and public engagement for the Information Law & Policy Centre.

“This position is offered at 3 years in the first instance with the possibility of permanent extension after this period.”

For more information and details of how to apply visit the University of London’s vacancy page.

The close date for this role is at midnight on Sunday, 23 October 2016. 

Update from the Information Law and Policy Centre

A reflection on what we’ve achieved to date, and a preview of what lies ahead for 2016/17

It is now 18 months since the official launch of the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

As the Centre’s first director, Dr Judith Townend, moves onto a new post at the University of Sussex, we thought it would be an opportune moment to offer you a brief summary of some of the Centre’s activities so far.

The Centre was launched in February 2015 with a remit to provide opportunities for academics, lawyers, policymakers, journalists, NGOs, charities and other parties to explore the way information and data is controlled, shared and disseminated.

As well as a small academic staff, its members include a number of associate research fellows based at various UK universities, and visiting fellows from around the world. An expert Advisory Board has helped us develop our programme of research.

At the launch event, presentations were given on topics as diverse as institutional data sharing, privacy vigilantism and cybersecurity. In the evening, Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, barrister at 11KBW and specialist in information rights, gave an informative and entertaining talk entitled ‘Does Privacy Matter?’

After an encouraging start, the Centre pursued a variety of inter-related research avenues.

One of the Centre’s main areas of interest during this period has been the progress of the Investigatory Powers Bill. During 2015, a team led by Professor Lorna Woods sought to establish the legal provenance of as many clauses in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill as possible. The Centre also collated commentary and other materials related to the Bill. These online resources support research into issues raised by the Bill around privacy, security and data sharing.

The Centre has also taken an active interest in the government’s Prevent strategy and the potential impact on freedom of expression and academic freedom brought about by the enforcement of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. In October 2015, in collaboration with the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, the Information Law and Policy Centre held a one day event considering how the Act might affect universities, their staff and students. The keynote was delivered by the Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable.

The Centre’s work on intellectual property law, led by Dr Christina Angelopoulos (who will be taking up a post at the University of Cambridge in October), has focused primarily on the law of copyright. The Centre has been particularly interested in the relationship between human rights and copyright, the issue of intermediary liability for copyright infringement and the need to re-evaluate the position of copyright in the modern economic and technological landscape. Most recently the centre hosted the launch of Angela Daly’s new book on the legal implications of 3D printing for copyright law.

More broadly, the Information Law and Policy Centre has also contributed to events coordinated by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. In particular, the Centre has assisted with a number of events exploring the humanity of law including ‘The Humanity of Judging‘, ‘Judgecraft and Emotions’ and ‘The Humanity of Barristers: Stories from the Bar’. In June 2016, the Centre helped organised an exhibition of drawings from the UK Supreme Court and other courts which provide artist Isobel Williams’ perspective on the human participants involved in legal proceedings.

In between times, the Centre has considered a range of other issues including access to courts data and the principle of open justice, freedom of information and expression, the right to be forgotten, whistleblowing in the digital age, and the interaction of UK law with the EU in relation to the EU referendum.

Speakers have included the Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew, Heather Rogers QC, former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue, Dominic Grieve QC MP,  Jessica Simor QC, and investigative journalists Heather Brooke and Ewen Macaskill. Numerous academics have joined discussion panels or led seminars; among these were Dr Judith Bannister, Professor Eric Barendt, Professor Ian Cram, and Professor Lilian Edwards.

We have offered training in law and ethics for research, and on public policy engagement for PhD students and early career researchers. A list of resources from our events and training can be found here.

We believe the Centre has had a strong start over the last 18 months and we would like to thank you for all your support of the Information Law and Policy Centre during this time. The Centre is only successful because of those of you who have attended events, given presentations, written guest blog posts, contributed to our research activities and encouraged us in the Centre’s work. We are especially grateful to our excellent advisors – both official and unofficial – and to all the external organisations and institutions with which we have partnered.

And more events are to come! Activities for autumn 2016 include ongoing research on protection for whistleblowers and journalists, an annual workshop themed on information control and human rights sponsored by Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal (9th November), and a seminar and panel discussion at London’s Free Word Centre to celebrate 250 years since Freedom of Information took root in Sweden in 1766 (8th December).

Looking ahead, we hope the Information Law and Policy Centre has an important contribution to make in the future bringing together academics, policymakers and practitioners in this field to discuss and research these issues.

As such, we are looking forward to seeing how the Information Law and Policy Centre develops under a new Director who will be appointed in the near future: the post will be advertised shortly via the University of London website.

For inquiries about the Centre’s activities, please contact our part-time research assistant Dr Daniel Bennett (daniel.bennett@sas.ac.uk).

 

 

 

Lorna Woods: An overview of the Investigatory Powers Bill report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights

In this post, Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex and Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, considers a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Investigatory Powers Bill.

The Joint Committee has reported on the IPB. In doing so, it has made clear that this is an expedited report to aid the bill’s hasty progress through Parliament. The Joint Committee does not suggest that its review covers all the issues, nor that it might not come back to issues. The Joint Committee discussed issues arising under seven headings: bulk powers; thematic warrants; modifications; MPs and the Wilson Doctrine; legal professional privilege (LPP); journalists’ sources; and oversightContinue reading