Monday, July 23, 2007

Life Is What Happens

Pangloss is one day back from a fantastic weekend in Leicester which had absolutely nothing to do with IT Law or even web 2.0 (yes this is possible, although you do have to swim to get there) and is packing again(or rather adding clothes to unpacked bag!) before she sets off at unearthly hour to the Berlin Law and Society Conference - where she is rapporteur to a multinational panel on privacy and security. If you are reading this and attending (and lord knows , it has 40 concurrent streams, so I expect to meet everyone I've ever known in academe..) then do say hi.

GikII 2 abstracts, meanwhile, are now closed: we have been (delightfully) imundated and I hope to get back to all who sent in submissions shortly after my return on 30 July. There may however be slight hiatus as I have 2 cats to transport to Cambridge and then Edinburgh..

Which all makes me think rather of the above :)

We are on at 8.15am Wed (back to Berlin) which was a time I thought I needed to know no more of post primary school:( Strong coffee will be required.
I am talking about privacy, security and convenience, the lesser spoken-of trio rather than dilemma; my colleagues are speaking on everything from Puerto Rican constitutional law and protection of privacy, to security defaults, to corporate data breaches. Should be fun.

There is also now a flyer for Pangloss's next venture at,which is the SCL workshop on Law 2.0 spoken of before, with limited low rate places for academics and students - hurry if you want to attend, as places are going fast!

Finally, a date for your diaries: ILAWS, the Institute for Law and the Web at Southampton, will be officially launched on October 10 2007 with a lecture by the ever entertaining Professor Chris Reed of QM College London, and following reception - do let me know if you are interested in coming and I'll put you on the list for more details nearer the time.

Real Comment, including German and French You Tube-style cases, and the ECJ ruling that ISPs cannot be required to filter out P2P traffic, follows soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Subtle Hand of Surveillance

My very smart colleague Judith Rauhofer of UCLAN has made the Telegraph web section today on the back of the upcoming Potterdamerung (the best coinage of the current media drench). What she's actually talking about is the paper she gave at last year's GikII (inter alia) and very good it was too. It is now published as "Defence against the Dark Arts: How the British Response to the Terrorist Threat Is Parodied in J K Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” (2007) International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry (inaugural issue).

I feel very proud:)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

And yet more Facebook

Fascinating piece from Wired as counterpoint to previous post, via Andrew Ducker.

"For longtime users, the influx of grownups means that information once intended for a circle of fellow students is now available for anyone to see. That has introduced a new social conundrum: Deciding whose invites should be accepted -- and how much of your profile they should be able to see.

"You can't really unfriend your mom," says Hillary Woolley, a junior at the University of California at Davis. "So I've been upping my privacy settings."

Facebook lets users specify what data is displayed in searches, and users can customize a "limited" view for select friends. But it's time-consuming to set up customized views for individuals, so most people are simply walling off their profiles to non-friends. "

Combined with the post below, and similar incidents worldwide, I'm betting on FB moving from a default of "openness" - based on a core audience of high school kids who want to share as much as POSSIBLE with each other - to a default of "open only to Friends" - based on a norm of networking with chosen persons. At the very least, I expect to see the notion that everyone in your Network - where a Network is a town not a school/university - seeing everything you have by default , to disappear.

OR, alternately, a divesification of the sociual networking sites of choice (My Space for music, FB for real friends, Linked IN for business - tho no one in the UK seems to like Linked In?)OR, migration of the herd to a better FB with a better/easier privacy-friendly interface.

Is privacy finally a feature not a bug? Interesting times..

And more facebook..

So what does everyone think of this story?

Leaving aside whether Oxford should or should not have conceivably antiquated rules forbidding students from celebrating (oh f'heavens sake!), who is most in the wrong here?

Should the girl who has been caught have checked to make sure her Facebook "privacy" settings actually stopped everyone seeing her pix of drunken devastation? One assumes, as my colleague Technollama has pointed out, that she did not necessarily reasonably have to know she was under surveillance - if she had joined the Oxford University network, then anyone else in that network (which I suspect, though do not know for sure, would embrace anyone who signed up with an email address, student or staff)would be able to see all her posts, contacts, photos, etcf etc - even if they were not known to her as a "Friend". To exclude that surveillance, she would have to have taken explicit privacy steps which anecdotally few people (particularly maths and philosopy graduates:) on Facebook seem aware.

Or to look at it another way; were her "reasonably expectations" of privacy met?

Should Facebook themselves have offered privacy to my-Friends-Only as the default, not leaving it up to the sense of people who think sparying each other with champagne and flour is the height of wit?

Should info gathered on Facebook in such circumstances be regarded as de jure "private" and therefore inadmissable as evidence (like evidence gathered in private houses when police break in without a warrant) - or is that as silly as saying that if the proctors had seen flour battles in the street they shouldn't have been able to use the evidence of their own eyes? Should evidence from facebook be not used, rather as insurnace companies have been asked not to use evidence of genetic testing? But what about a comparison to the case of people who are sacked from their jobs because they say daft things about their employers on their blogs? it seems difficult to disticnguish the two types of case.

If pictures existed on her site which showed the flour/champagne battles, is it so res ipsa loquitur that to talk of privacy and evidence and default settings is just silly and she should take her lumps?

Is Facebook a "private" or "public" space??

I think this is going to be my paper for the Berlin Law and Society Conference next week.It's meant to be on privacy and security but hell, I'm sure I can twists it round :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

GikII 2

In September 2006, Technollama and yours truly organised the first GikII workshop, a tremendously entertaining gathering of like-minded people willing to discuss the interface between geek culture and the law. The resulting workshop provided a look at the virtual personality of avatars; legal aspects of fandom, anime and even hentai; privacy in the novels of Harry Potter; technophobia as a drive for regulation; the ecological impact of computing; and more mentions to the three laws of robotics than you could ever expect in a legal workshop.

We are now officially announcing the venue for GikII 2 on September 19 2007 : University College London. Very many thanks to Ian Brown for arranging this. The workshop is free to speakers who have abstracts accepted, but a (very) limited number of non-speaker places are available at a nominal £30 GBP. There will be a conference dinner arranged at a nearby Italian restaurant which will again be free to speakers only and at reasonable costs to others. There is a very limited amount of money available to subsidise attendance - please contact me on for details - preference will be given to those with no home institutional funding, especially PhD students.

There is an online registration form here. Preference wil however be given to those whose abtrsacts are accepted. Because we're trying to be all Web 2.0, you can also join the group GikII on Facebook, which already has 24 members and rising!.

There is still time to get in abstracts but only just!!! The deadline is July 15 and as we already have a large number of submissions it is unlikely to be extended so get your marvellous ideas in NOW. 500 words max, to myself as above or to .