Monthly Archives: August 2017

Social media genie won’t go back in the bottle, so we must teach youngsters to use it wisely

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Beer5020/Shutterstock

In this guest post, Vladlena Benson, Kingston Universityassesses the need to encourage conscious social media use among the young. Her article is relevant to the Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual conference coming up in November – Children and Digital Rights: Regulating Freedoms and Safeguards.

Teenagers in Britain are fortunate to have access to computers, laptops and smartphones from an early age. A child in the UK receives a smartphone at around the age of 12 – among the earliest in Europe. The natural consequence of this is that children spend a significant amount of their time on the internet. Nearly 20 years or so since the first social networks appeared on the internet, there has been considerable research into their psychological, societal, and health effects. While these have often been seen as largely negative over the years, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

A recent report from the Education Policy Institute, for example, studied children’s use of the internet and their mental health. The report found that teenagers value social networks as a way of connecting with friends and family, maintaining their networks of friends, and long distance connections. Teenagers see social networking as a comfortable medium for sharing their issues and finding solutions to problems such as social isolation and loneliness. They are also more likely to seek help in areas such as health advice, unknown experiences, and help with exams and study techniques.

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Call for Papers: Financing and the Right to Science in Technology Transfer in the SDGs

Readers of the Information and Law Policy Centre blog are invited to participate in the second, full-day International Law for the Sustainable Development Goals Workshop at the Department of International Law, University of Groningen, NL.

Our aim with the second track of this one-day Workshop is to explore the right to science’s potential value in the context of technology & knowledge transfer and sustainable development. More specifically, we aim to discuss the role of the right to science as (a) a means to implement the SDGs and related human rights; (b) an enabler of international cooperation regarding technology and knowledge sharing; and (c) a stand-alone human right and the respective obligations of States in enhancing systemic policy and institutional coherence and informing policy development and coordination.

Please find the the detailed Call for Papers available here.

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Information Law and Policy Centre’s Annual Conference 2017 – Children and Digital Rights: Regulating Freedoms and Safeguards

This event took place at the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies on Friday, 17 November 2017.
ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2017 RESOURCES

Date 17 Nov 2017, 09:30 to 17 Nov 2017, 17:30
Venue Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

Description

The Internet provides children with more freedom to communicate, learn, create, share, and engage with society than ever before. For instance, research by Ofcom in 2016 found that 72% of young teenagers (twelve to fifteen) in the UK have social media accounts which are often used for homework groups. 20% of the same group have made their own digital music and 30% have used the Internet for civic engagement by signing online petitions, or sharing and talking online 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 bullying in online chat groups. Children may also be targeted via social media platforms with methods (such as fake online identities or manipulated photos/images) specifically designed to harm them or exploit their particular vulnerabilities and naivety.

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Transferring personal data outside the EU: Clarification from the ECJ?

In this guest post Lorna Woods, Professor of Internet Law at the University of Essex, explores the EU’s proposed Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement with Canada. This post first appeared on the blog of Steve Peers, Professor of EU, Human Rights and World Trade Law at the University of Essex.

Opinion 1/15 EU/Canada PNR Agreement, 26th July 2017

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Are we still ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ and if so, at what cost to children?

Marion Oswald Senior Fellow at The Centre for Information Rights, University of Winchester contributes to the blog, examining the British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association (BILETA) consultation run by The Centre of Information Rights. The consultation took place on the 7 June 2017 and concerned the impact of broadcast and social media on the privacy and best interests of young children.

In 1985, in his book ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’, Professor Neil Postman warned us that:

‘To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a programme for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral…is…stupidity plain and simple.’

Postman was mainly concerned with the impact of television, with its presentation of news as ‘vaudeville’ and thus its influence on other media to do the same. He was particularly exercised by the co-option by television of ‘serious modes of discourse – news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion’ and the transformation of these into entertainment packages.  This ‘trivial pursuit’ information environment, he argued, risked amusing us into indifference and a kind of ‘culture-death.’ Can a culture survive ‘if the value of its news is determined by the number of laughs it provides’?

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The Surveillance Triangle: Authorities, Data subjects and Means

Readers of the Information and Law Policy Centre blog may be interested in the following event held by Maastricht University.

The academic conference addresses the question as to how surveillance is perceived from the perspective of three main stakeholders involved in the process of surveillance: surveillance authorities, data subjects and companies. The conference tackles precisely this issue. It brings together the perspective of those stakeholders and provides informative insights of academics from both the EU and the US on how these issues interplay in different contexts.

Programme

9:30-10:00 Registration
10:00-10:30 Keynote speech:
The EU’s approach towards surveillance”, Philippe Renaudière, Data Protection Officer, European Commission
10:30-12:00 Panel I: The perspective of the authorities who exercise surveillance
12:00-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:00 Panel II: The perspective of Individuals subject to surveillance
15:00-15:30 Coffee break
15:30-17:00 Panel III: Means of Surveillance
17:00-17:30 Closing remarks, Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS
17:30-18:00 Wrap-up
18:00 Network Cocktail

The Legal Challenges of Social Media

Legal Challenges of social media imageHow has the law adapted to the emergence and proliferation of social media tools and digital technology? Furthermore, how successful has the law been in governing the challenges associated with an ongoing reformulation of our understandings of public and private spaces in the online environment?

These were the key questions discussed by a panel of experts at the Information Law and Policy Centre earlier this month. The event heralded the launch of a new book entitled the ‘Legal Challenges of Social Media’ edited by Dr David Mangan (City Law School) and Dr Lorna Gillies (University of Strathclyde).  A number of the book’s authors provided insights into the contents of their individual chapters.

Social Media and Press Regulation

Professor Ian Walden began proceedings with a discussion of his chapter on press regulation. His chapter was informed by his own experience on the board of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) between 2009 and 2014.

Walden started by addressing the question of what constitutes “press law”. Walden highlighted that for the most part journalists and editors are subject to the same law as most people – there is no special ‘public interest’ defence or journalistic exemption for hacking into the voicemail of a mobile phone user for example. At the same time, journalists abide (to varying degrees) to an Editors’ Code which goes beyond the provisions of the law. In this context, the online environment and social media has rendered press regulation even more complex in a number of ways.

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ECREA Communication Law and Policy Section Workshop

Readers of the Information and Law Policy Centre blog may be interested in the following ECREA event.

The Future of Media Content:
Interventions and Industries in the Internet Era
15 – 16 September 2017

The “Communication Law and Policy” and “Media Industries and Cultural Production” Sections of the European Communications Research and Education Association (ECREA) invite you to their 2017 joint workshop on The Future of Content: Interventions and Industries in the Internet Era, hosted by the University of East Anglia’s School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies. This unique opportunity will bring together those investigating the processes of production and distribution with those studying the policy and regulation governing those processes.

Renowned Prof Eli Noam from Columbia University, NY will deliver the keynote address. A keynote panel of industry and policy actors will additionally set the tone for a day and a half of research-based discussions on trends and challenges.

Media and communications industries have changed dramatically over the past decade and both businesses and policy makers are struggling to adapt. Legacy media companies engaged in cultural and news production are trying to change their business models in a manner that will allow them to survive in the face of increased competition for advertising income and the constraints of having a new breed of intermediaries between them and their audiences.

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Fellowship opportunity at Parliament: Investigating the impact of Parliament on legislation

Legal researchers might be interested in the following fellowship opportunity at UK Parliament…

The UK Parliament is currently piloting an academic fellowship scheme that offers academic researchers, from different subject areas and at every stage of their career, the opportunity to work on specific projects from inside Westminster’s walls.

We are now in the second phase of this scheme. This involves an ‘Open call’ which offers academics the opportunity to come and work in Parliament on a project of their own choosing, as long as they can demonstrate that it is relevant, and will contribute, to the work of Parliament.

One area of interest to Parliament is the impact of Parliament on legislation. We are interested in working with academics with knowledge and/or experience in identifying, tracking and assessing impact to help us to understand better, and identify empirically, the influence of MPs and Peers’ scrutiny on legislation.

As a bill passes through parliament, MPs and Peers examine the proposals contained within it at both a general (debating the general principles and themes of the Bill) and detailed level (examining the specific proposals put forward in the bill, line-by-line). More information about the different stages in the passing of a bill is provided on the parliamentary website. In so doing, MPs and Peers debate the key principles and main purpose/s of a bill and flag up any concerns or specific areas where they think amendments (changes) are needed.

We are interested in developing a series of case studies that examine how Peers’ scrutiny of legislation has shaped the focus, content or tone of legislation as it becomes an Act (given Royal Assent). This can include:

  • Direct influence, for example an amendment tabled by a Peer is successful and is agreed to by the government and incorporated directly into the bill.
  • Indirect influence, for instance when an amendment tabled by a Peer is not successful but the substance of it is subsequently introduced by the government itself (and when the role of the Peer that tabled it in the first instance is not acknowledged).

We envisage that the case studies will look at a government bill scrutinized by the House of Lords and trace the outcome/s of amendments tabled and debated at each stage of the bill’s scrutiny.

The choice of bills to focus on will be decided in conjunction with the academic. This will require the Fellow to:

  • understand the intentions of the amendments tabled
  • understand how the amendment related to, and interacted with the bill as drafted
  • produce an explanation of the outcome in each case
  • draft a concise written account of the House’s impact on the bill.

The Scheme is open to academics (researchers with PhDs) employed at any of the 33 universities holding Impact Acceleration Award funding from either the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) or the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). There are opportunities for flexible working including both part-time and remote working.

The deadline for submitting an expression of interest to the Scheme is midnight on 4th September 2017.

For more information about the Academic Fellowship Scheme see: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/bicameral/post/fellowships/parliamentary-academic-fellowship-scheme/

If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please get in touch with Dr Caroline Kenny (kennyc@parliament.uk), at The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.