Legislating for Web 2.0: Leading the Thinking

January 27, 2009

SCL is proud to reveal that leading figures in the Web 2.0 world have contributed articles on the thorniest of Web issues. The authors represent a wide range of interests and jurisdictions. With the Carter Report imminent, the articles will inform the coming debate, a debate that is likely to attract mainstream attention and which will sorely need expert points of reference.

The articles reflect the range of expertise that was on display at the SCL Forum, which was hosted by Mark Turner and sponsored by Herbert Smith LLP in September 2008. But, encouraged and steered by SCL Forum Convener Chris Marsden, the authors have carefully updated their material to recognise current realities and priorities. The articles will provide the centrepiece for the Feb/March issue of Computers & Law.

Jean-Jacques Sahel, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Europe-Skype – Towards an (Electronic) Communications Act 2011. He considers the approach which should underpin any legislation on electronic communications and argues that the extraordinary nature of the Internet requires a principles-based approach to inform legislation rather than a narrow sectoral regulation.

Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor at the Computer Lab, University of Cambridge – An Un-governating Principle for the Internet. Taking an expert technical perspective, Jon thinks much of the debate about Internet governance can be denuded of meaning by the technical solutions he identifies.

Herbert Ungerer, Deputy Director General, Directorate General Competition, European Commission – Competition and Web 2.0. He offers his personal views on the interplay between EU competition regulation and the development of Web 2.0, and beyond.

Tom Gibbons, Halliwells Professor of Law at the University of Manchester – The ‘Future-proof’ Communications Bill: Thinking Afresh. Professor Gibbons ponders the best approach to drafting new legislation and considers the broad social influences which Web 2.0 has created or reawakened that should influence that approach.

Lorna Woods, Professor of Law at City University, London – The ‘Future-proof’ Communications Bill: Platform Regulation in a New Age. The tensions created in existing attempts at regulation provide the focus for the article from Lorna Woods. The concepts of ‘super-regulator’, devolved regulation and self-regulation are among those examined.

Chris Reed, Professor of Electronic Commerce Law, Queen Mary University of London School of Law- Policies for Intermediary Immunity. Professor Reed considers the development of intermediary immunity, changes in technology and social use that bring it into question and the balancing exercise involved in the formulation of a new policy. Most tellingly, he puts forward a suggestion for the future of the immunity and reforms of the legislation that created it.

Andrea M. Matwyshyn, assistant professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania – Behavioural Targeting of Online Advertisements and the Future of Data Protection. She covers the issues surrounding behavioural targeting, such as offered by Neubad in the USA and Phorm in the UK. The requirement for consent in data protection terms and the possible need for international harmonization are among the topics she discusses.

Nico van Eijk, professor by special appointment of Media and Telecommunications Law at the Institute for Information Law (IViR, University of Amsterdam) – A Converged Regulatory Model for Search Engines? With search engines being such a vital part of the consumer experience of the Internet, the author asks if there is room for a regulatory regime which covers them.

Andrew A Adams and Ian Brown, Lecturer at the University of Reading and senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute – Keep Looking: The Answer to the Machine is Elsewhere. They suggest that the search for a technological answer to copyright liability problems is hopeless, and that the debate among businesses and politicians is riddled with misconceptions. What is needed, they say, is a new model for a new age.

Lilian Edwards, Professor of Internet Law at the University of Sheffield – Should ISPs be Compelled to Become Copyright Cops? Reflecting on file-sharing, the music industry and trends in enforcement, Professor Edwards looks into the future of copyright enforcement on the Internet. She asks how fundamental freedoms and respect for IP rights can best be reconciled.

Chris Marsden, Senior Lecturer, Essex Law School – The Net Neutrality Zombie and Net Neutrality ‘Lite’. He suggests that excessive regulation to ensure net neutrality can have negative consequences and approves the EU approach which produces ‘net neutrality lite’.

If you have comments on any of the articles, e-mail lseastham@aol.com with your views.