The rapid advancement of digital technology keeps challenging the potential of the law to provide appropriate, reliable regulatory solutions. On the one hand, a regulatory framework is required that is open and flexible enough to support the continuous evolution of new products, services and business models. On the other hand, restrictions of the use of new technologies may be necessary to safeguard fundamental rights and human dignity.
The overarching question of the role of law in the digital era has many facets. What are the genuinely new aspects of digitization that give rise to regulatory dilemmas? How does law evolve to adapt to this changing reality? How are different conflicting interests reconciled in legal systems? How to devise legal rules that are sustainable enough to keep pace with rapid technological development? Is the current legal framework still effective in the digital era? Who are and should be the main actors shaping the digital environment and the law for the digital environment?
To shed light on these facets of law and governance in the digital era, the Congress first offers two plenary sessions. Seeking to explore the present interplay of technology and legal norms, the first session maps current regulatory dilemmas that are triggered by digital technology: from access to information for the purposes of text and data mining to legal risks associated with the use of advanced information technologies. On this basis, the second session discusses the potential of available regulatory tools in the public and private sphere. To which extent can traditional legislation still be seen as an appropriate answer? Which level of abstraction is required? Which level of harmonization of national approaches is desirable? Is it conceivable to combine public and private norm setting and enforcement initiatives? How much room should be provided for self-regulation?
With the morning sessions laying groundwork for a more detailed problem analysis, it becomes possible to focus on individual developments at the crossroads of law and technology in parallel afternoon sessions: from liability risks evolving from driverless cars, privacy issues surrounding the recording of private use and consumption patterns as a result of the internet of things, the hidden control of borders through digital data exchange in the first series of parallel sessions to changes in notary services based on digital applications, the reconsideration of intellectual property norms in the light of 3D printing and the involvement of Internet services providers in law enforcement in the second series of parallel sessions.
Bringing together the results of the discussion, the final roundtable of session chairs will yield deeper insights into the interaction between law and technology, the role and impact of public and private regulation and, ultimately, the chances of governance in the digital era.
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