Recent developments on freedom of expression, Dr David Goldberg

This post brings us some recent developments on freedom expression from Dr David Goldberg, Senior Visiting Fellow, Institute of Computer and Communications Law in the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London, and member of the Information Law and Policy Centre’s Advisory Board.

Dr Goldberg has recently co-organised a symposium at the Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, on “Fake News and Weaponized Defamation”. The event took place on the 26th January 2018. Further information on the event can be found at: Photos from the event are available at

Dr Goldberg delivered a presentation at the event calling for enhancing media literacy, and cautioning against over-relying on the law to deal with the so-called phenomenon of fake news. Dr Goldberg’s presentation will be available in a forthcoming publication.

In addition, Dr Goldberg has recently published a chapter entitled ‘Dronalism, Newsgathering Protection and Day-to-day Norms’ in Responsible Drone Journalism (2018) edited by Astrid Gynnild and Turo Uskali. The book is available at

Lastly, following up on the ‘Freedom of Information at 250’ event held at the Free Word Centre in December 2016 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 publication Press Freedom 250 Years: Freedom of the Press and Public Access to Official Documents in Sweden and Finland – A Living Heritage from 1766 is now available in English. The publication of this translation has been in large part due to the efforts of Dr David Goldberg, Mark Weiler and Staffan Dalhoff. The book was launched on 2nd December 2016 at the Swedish Parliament, and the free PDF is available at

To order the book for libraries, contact:
Riksdag Printing Office, SE 100 12 Stockholm

ILPC Annual Conference and Annual Lecture 2017 Children and Digital Rights: Regulating Freedoms and Safeguards

ILPC Annual Conference and Annual Lecture 2017
Children and Digital Rights: Regulating Freedoms and Safeguards

The Internet provides children with more freedom to communicate, learn, create, share, and engage with society than ever before. Research by Ofcom in 2016 found that 72 percent of young teenagers in the UK have social media accounts. Twenty percent of the same group have made their own digital music and 30 percent have used the Internet for civic engagement by signing online petitions or by sharing and talking about the news.

Interacting within this connected digital world, however, also presents a number of challenges to ensuring the adequate protection of a child’s rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and safety, both online and offline. These risks range from children being unable to identify advertisements on search engines to being subjects of bullying or grooming or other types of abuse in online chat groups.

Children may also be targeted via social media platforms with methods (such as fake online identities or manipulated photos and images) specially designed to harm them or exploit their particular vulnerabilities and naivety.

These issues were the focus of the 2017 Annual Conference of the Information Law and Policy Centre (ILPC) based at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. The ILPC produces, promotes, and facilitates research about the law and policy of information and data, and the ways in which law both restricts and enables the sharing and dissemination of different types of information.

The ILPC’s Annual conference was one of a series of events celebrating
the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Other events included the ILPC’s Being Human Festival expert and interdisciplinary panel discussion on ‘Co-existing with HAL 9000: Being Human in a World with Artificial Intelligence’.

At the 2017 ILPC Annual Conference, leading policymakers, practitioners, regulators, key representatives from industry and civil society, and academic experts examined and debated the opportunities and challenges posed by current and future legal frameworks and the policies being used and developed to safeguard these freedoms and rights.

These leading stakeholders included Rachel Bishop, Deputy Director of Internet Policy at the Department of Digital (DCMS); Lisa Atkinson, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Head of Policy; Anna Morgan, Deputy Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland; Graham Smith, Internet law expert at Bird & Bird LLP), Renate Samson, former CEO of privacy advocacy organisation Big Brother Watch, and Simon Milner, Facebook’s Policy Director for the UK, Africa, and Middle East.

The legal systems under scrutiny included the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the related provisions of the UK Digital Charter, and the UK Data Protection Bill, which will implement the major reforms of the much anticipated EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) (GDPR) which will soon enter into force on 25 May 2018. Key concerns expressed at the conference by delegates included the effectiveness in practice and lack of evidence-based policy for the controversial age of consent for children and their use of online information services provided for under the GDPR.

Further questions were raised with respect to what impact in practice will there be for children’s privacy, their freedom of expression, and their civil liberties as a result of the new transparency and accountability principles and mechanisms that must be implemented by industry and governments when their data processing involves the online marketing to, or monitoring, of children.

Given the importance and pertinence of these challenging and cutting-edge policy issues, the Centre is delighted that several papers, by regulators and academic experts from institutions within the UK, the EU, and beyond, which were presented, discussed, and debated at the conference’s plenary sessions and keynote panels, feature in a special issue of the leading peer-review legal journal of Communications Law, published by Bloomsbury Publishers.

This special issue also includes the Centre’s 2017 Annual Lecture delivered by one of the country’s leading children’s online rights campaigners, Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, also a member of the House of Lords and film-maker, on ‘Are Children more than Clickbait in the 21st Century?’

For IALS podcasts of the 2017 ILPC Annual Lecture delivered by Baroness Kidron and presentations from the Annual Conference’s Keynote Panel, please see the IALS website at:

Nora Ni Loideain
Director and Lecturer in Law,
Information Law and Policy Centre,
IALS, University of London.

5th Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law Wednesday 25 April 2018, Winchester, UK

5th Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law Wednesday 25 April 2018, Holiday Inn, Winchester, UK

Theme: Public Law, Politics and the Constitution: A new battleground between the Law and Technology?

Keynote speakers will be Michael Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary who has spoken recently about the need to reclaim ‘sovereignty’ over the Internet, and Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media for Demos in conjunction with the University of Sussex, and author of several books including ‘Radicals’ and ‘The Dark Net’.  Breakout sessions will explore fake news, the use of algorithms in the public sector, infringements over the Internet and other issues.  The conference will include the launch of the University of Winchester’s new Centre for Parliament and Public Law, with a presentation highlighting the ongoing work of the Department of Culture, Media & Sport in the area of Data Ethics & Innovation.


For the full conference programme, please visit


To book, please go to

British government’s new ‘anti-fake news’ unit has been tried before – and it got out of hand

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In this guest post, Dan Lomas, Programme Leader, MA Intelligence and Security Studies, University of Salford, explores the British government’s new ‘anti-fake news’ unit.

The decision to set up a new National Security Communications Unit to counter the growth of “fake news” is not the first time the UK government has devoted resources to exploit the defensive and offensive capabilities of information. A similar thing was tried in the Cold War era, with mixed results.

The planned unit has emerged as part of a wider review of defence capabilities. It will reportedly be dedicated to “combating disinformation by state actors and others” and was agreed at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC).

As a spokesperson for UK prime minister Theresa May told journalists:

We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives. The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected, complex challenges.


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Annual Conference 2017 Resources

The Information Law and Policy Centre held its third annual conference on 17th November 2017. The workshop’s theme was: ‘Children and Digital Rights: Regulating Freedoms and Safeguards’.

The workshop brought together regulators, practitioners, civil society, and leading academic experts who addressed and examined the key legal frameworks and policies being used and developed to safeguard children’s digital freedoms and rights. These legislative and policy regimes include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the related provisions (such as consent, transparency, and profiling) under the UK Digital Charter, and the Data Protection Bill which will implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

The following resources are available online:

  • Full programme
  • Presentation: ILPC Annual Conference, Baroness Beeban Kidron (video)
  • Presentation: ILPC Annual Conference, Anna Morgan (video)
  • Presentation: ILPC Annual Conference, Lisa Atkinson (video)
  • Presentation: ILPC Annual Conference, Rachael Bishop (video)

Co-existing with HAL 9000: Being Human in a World with AI

This event will focus on the implications posed by the increasingly significant role of artificial intelligence (AI) in society and the possible ways in which humans will co-exist with AI in future, particularly the impact that this interaction will have on our liberty, privacy, and agency. Will the benefits of AI only be achieved at the expense of these human rights and values? Do current laws, ethics, or technologies offer any guidance with respect to how we should navigate this future society?

Event date:
Monday, 20 November 2017 – 5:30pm

Emotion detection, personalisation and autonomous decision-making online

This event took place at the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies on Monday, 5 February 2018.

05 Feb 2018, 17:30 to 05 Feb 2018, 19:30
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

Speaker: Damian Clifford, KU Leuven Centre for IT and IP Law

Panel Discussants:

Dr Edina Harbinja, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Hertfordshire.

Hamed Haddadi, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor),  Deputy Director of Research in the Dyson School of Design Engineering, and an Academic Fellow of the Data Science Institute in the Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London.

Chair: Dr Nora Ni Loideain, Director and Lecturer in Law, Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies


Emotions play a key role in decision making. Technological advancements are now rendering emotions detectable in real-time. Building on the granular insights provided by big data, such technological developments allow commercial entities to move beyond the targeting of behaviour in advertisements to the personalisation of services, interfaces and the other consumer-facing interactions, based on personal preferences, biases and emotion insights gleaned from the tracking of online activity and profiling and the emergence of ‘emphathic media’.

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Personal Data as an Asset: Design and Incentive Alignments in a Personal Data Economy

Registration open

19 Feb 2018, 17:30 to 19 Feb 2018, 19:30
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

Speaker:  Professor Irene Ng, Director of the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation and the Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at WMG, University of Warwick
Panel Discussants: Perry Keller, King’s College London and John Sheridan, National ArchivesChair:  Dr Nora Ni Loideain, Director and Lecturer in Law, Information Law & Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies



Despite the World Economic Forum (2011) report on personal data becoming an asset class  the cost of transacting on personal data is becoming increasingly high with regulatory risks, societal disapproval, legal complexity and privacy concerns.

Professor Irene Ng contends that this is because personal data as an asset is currently controlled by organisations. As a co-produced asset, the person has not had the technological capability to control and process his or her own data or indeed, data in general. Hence, legal and economic structures have been created only around Organisation-controlled personal data (OPD).

This presentation will argue that a person-controlled personal data (PPD), technologically, legally and economically architected such that the individual owns a personal micro-server and therefore have full rights to the data within, much like owning a PC or a smartphone, is potentially a route to reducing transaction costs and innovating in the personal data economy. I will present the design and incentive alignments of stakeholders on the HAT hub-of-all-things platform (

Professor Irene Ng is the Director of the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation and the Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at WMG, University of Warwick. She is also the Chairman of the Hub-of-all-Things (HAT) Foundation Group ( A market design economist, Professor Ng is an advisor to large organisations, startups and governments on design of markets, economic and business models in the digital economy. Personal website

John Sheridan is the Digital Director at The National Archives, with overall responsibility for the organisation’s digital services and digital archiving capability. His role is to provide strategic direction, developing the people and capability needed for The National Archives to become a disruptive digital archive. John’s academic background is in mathematics and information technology, with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Southampton and a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool. Prior to his current role, John was the Head of Legislation Services at The National Archives where he led the team responsible for creating, as well overseeing the operation of the official Gazette. John recently led, as Principal Investigator, an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, ‘big data for law’, exploring the application of data analytics to the statute book, winning the Halsbury Legal Award for Innovation. John has a strong interest in the web and data standards and is a former co-chair of the W3C e-Government Interest Group. He serves on the UK Government’s Data Leaders group and Open Standards Board which sets data standards for use across government. John was an early pioneer of open data and remains active in that community.

Perry Keller is Reader in Media and Information Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, where he teaches and researches issues relating to freedom of expression, privacy and data protection. He is the author of European and International Media Law. Mr Keller’s current research concerns the transparency of urban life as a consequence of governmental and commercial surveillance and the particular challenges that brings for liberal democracies. He also has longstanding connections with China, having previously studied or worked in Beijing, Nanjing, Taipei and Hong Kong. His current research interests regarding law and regulation in China concern the development of a divergent Chinese model for securing data privacy and security.

A wine reception will follow this seminar.

Admission FREE but advance booking is required.


AI trust and AI fears: A media debate that could divide society

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In this guest post, Dr Vyacheslav Polonski, Researcher, University of Oxford examines the key question of trust or fear of AI.

We are at a tipping point of a new digital divide. While some embrace AI, many people will always prefer human experts even when they’re wrong.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably have been inundated with recent news on machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). With all the recent breakthroughs, it almost seems like AI can already predict the future. Police forces are using it to map when and where crime is likely to occur. Doctors can use it to predict when a patient is most likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Researchers are even trying to give AI imagination so it can plan for unexpected consequences.

Of course, many decisions in our lives require a good forecast, and AI agents are almost always better at forecasting than their human counterparts. Yet for all these technological advances, we still seem to deeply lack confidence in AI predictions. Recent cases show that people don’t like relying on AI and prefer to trust human experts, even if these experts are wrong.

If we want AI to really benefit people, we need to find a way to get people to trust it. To do that, we need to understand why people are so reluctant to trust AI in the first place.

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A Prediction about Predictions

In this guest post, Marion Oswald offers her homage to Yes Minister and, in that tradition, smuggles in some pertinent observations on AI fears. This post first appeared on the SCL website’s Blog as part of Laurence Eastham’s Predictions 2018 series. It is also appearing in Computers & Law, December/January issue.

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