13 December 2017

CCTV in EU teaching spaces

In Antovic and Mirkovic v Montenegro [2017] ECHR 1068 the European Court of Human Rights has held that CCTV in a public lecture theatre at  the University of Montenegro breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. CCTV networks are a feature of teaching spaces in many Australian universities.

Article 8 of the Convention protects the right to respect for private and family life. The Dean of the School of Mathematics installed video surveillance in a public lecture theatre at the university to "protect safety of property, people and students". It also recorded lectures. The data was protected by codes known only to the Dean and kept for one year. A decision articulated by the Dean specified that the introduction of CCTV was intended to ensure the safety of property and people, including students, and the surveillance of teaching.

In March 2011 academics Ms Nevenka Antović and Mr Jovan Mirkovic complained to the state Personal Data Protection Agency about the video surveillance and the collection of data on them without consent. They relied on  Montenegro's Personal Data Protection Act. In particular, they argued that the amphitheatre where they taught was locked both before and after the classes, that the only property there was fixed desks and chairs and a blackboard, that they knew of no reason to fear for anybody’s safety and that, in any event, there were other methods for protecting people and property and monitoring classes. They requested that the cameras be removed and the data erased.

Antović and Mirkovic  challenged the assessment. The Montenegrin Personal Data Protection Agency ordered the removal of the cameras. There was no evidence safety was an issue and therefore no legitimate grounds for data collection. The Agency ordered the School of Mathematics to remove the cameras from the auditoriums within fifteen days, as the video surveillance was not in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Act. In particular, the reasons for the introduction of video surveillance provided for by s 36 of that Act had not been met, given that there was no evidence that there was any danger to the safety of people and property in the auditoriums, still less to confidential data, and that the surveillance of teaching was not among the legitimate grounds for video surveillance. In January 2012 the cameras were removed .

Ms Antovic and Mr Mirkovic brought compensation claims against the University of Montenegro, the Personal Data Protection Agency and the State of Montenegro, for a violation of their right to a private life, notably by the unauthorised collection and processing of data on them. 
They submitted in particular that such an interference with their private lives, without any possibility to control that process, was not provided for by any piece of legislation and that therefore it had not been in accordance with the law, within the meaning of Article 8 § 2 of the Convention. They also maintained that it had not pursued any legitimate aim and had not been necessary in a democratic society. They relied on the relevant provisions of the Personal Data Protection Act, Article 8 of the Convention and the relevant case-law of the Court. 
Domestic courts held that Article 8 had not been violated. The Court of First Instance for example  found that the notion of private life certainly included activities in the business and professional spheres. However, the university was a public institution performing activities of public interest (inc  teaching), and that it was thus not possible for video surveillance of the auditoriums as public places to violate the applicants’ right to respect for their private life. The lecture space was a working area, akin to  a courtroom or parliament, where professors were never alone, and therefore they could not invoke any right to privacy that could be violated. The data that had been collected could thereby also not be considered as personal data. 

The Court further held that monitoring of actions taking place in public (in accord with the Court’s case-law)  was not an interference with a person’s private life when those means just recorded what others could see if they happened to be in the same place at the same time. The monitoring of the actions of an individual in a public place by the use of photographic equipment which just instantaneously recorded visual data did not give rise to an interference with that individual’s private life, which could arise once any footage of such material became publicly available. The Court  concluded that the installation and use of video surveillance and the collection of data thereby had not violated the applicants’ right to privacy  and had therefore not caused them any mental anguish.

On appeal the European Court (by four votes to three) ruled that although the University is a public sphere, private life encompasses business and professional activities. Article 8 had been breached.

The compensation awarded was, from an Australian perspective, symbolic. Antović and Mirkovic were awarded one thousand euros each in respect of non-pecuniary damage. They were awarded 1,669.50 euros jointly in respect of costs and expenses;

Plumbers and the French Disease

From Cynthia L. Haven's Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard (Michigan State University Press, 2018) -
The theatrics of Baltimore raise another important point, and one that’s emerged since. To put it bluntly: How much was pure sham, pure preening and ego jousting? At times, the mimetic rivalries and derivative desires seemed to be a showcase for the very principles Girard’s Deceit, Desire, and the Novel describes.
The American philosopher John Searle excoriated Derrida, insisting, 
You can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste . . . And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.”
Not everyone, of course, agrees with this reading—though many have criticized Derrida for his byzantine writing, with its italics, its phrases in phantom quotation marks, and its dizzying wordplay. Girard himself clearly felt respect, as well as dismay, for his colleague. Girard himself, although dismayed by the deconstructive frenzy Derrida wrought, clearly had respect for his colleague as well. In particular, he wrote and spoke admiringly of Derrida’s early essay, “Plato’s Pharmacy,” which anticipated his own insights in some respects.
To some extent, Searle’s criticism reflects the porous divide between analytic and continental philosophy, and the former still dominates the American intellectual landscape and our public discourse. Speaking very roughly, analytic philosophy focuses on analysis—of thought, language, logic, knowledge, mind; continental philosophy focuses on synthesis—synthesis of modernity with history, individuals with society, and speculation with application. Anglo-American philosophy has emphasized the former; mainland Europe the latter. Searle is aligned with the analytic camp; so is linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, one of America’s leading public intellectuals.
Chomsky called Lacan a “total charlatan” posturing for the television cameras, charging that “there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t,” he said.
Searle’s and Chomsky’s critique is part of the American opposition that began in the 1980s, continuing the philosophical school of “American pragmatism” that looks for ideas to deliver some intellectual payoff. American pragmatists have been called “the plumbers of philosophy”—they attempt to solve problems, not provide elegant and clever descriptions of problems.
Perhaps questions should be practical, too. Sometimes a single naive question can bring down an entire edifice of thought. Let me extend a few naive questions, then, in that spirit: How is a philosophy embodied in the man who espouses it? What is a philosophy that does not change a man—not only what he says, but how he lives? How does a man’s being—the sum of his knowledge, experience, and will—“prove” his knowledge? Can we ever devise a philosophy, even a theory, wholly apart from who we are, and what we must justify? These questions were raised in earnest when Heidegger’s affiliation with the Nazis, and later Paul de Man’s complicity with them, were revealed. What does the test of time show us about the merits of an idea? However heated the arguments in the Parisian coffee shops, in the end, decades later, they would become systems of thought characterized by wordplay, mind games, and a noncombatant’s flexibility, charm, and elasticity—all delivered with an ironic wink.


Draft Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, headed by former HCA justice Kenneth Hayne, are -
Australia has one of the strongest and most stable banking, superannuation and financial services industries in the world, performing a critical role in underpinning the Australian economy. Our banking system is systemically strong with internationally recognised, world’s best prudential regulation and oversight. 
Most Australians are consumers of banking, superannuation and other financial services. The superannuation system alone in Australia has created more than a $2 trillion retirement savings pool, which continues to grow rapidly, and which compels all working Australians to defer income today for their retirement. 
All Australians have the right to be treated honestly and fairly in their dealings with banking, superannuation and financial services providers. The highest standards of conduct are critical to the good governance and corporate culture of those providers. 
These standards should continue to be complemented by strong regulatory and supervisory frameworks that ensure that all Australian consumers and businesses have confidence and trust in the financial system. 
The Government will appoint a distinguished serving or former judicial officer to lead a Royal Commission into the banking, superannuation and financial services industries. 
The Commission’s inquiry will not defer, delay or limit, in any way, any proposed and announced policy, legislation or regulation of the Government. 
Terms of Reference 
1. The Commission must inquire into the following matters;
a) the nature, extent and effect of misconduct by a financial services entity (including by its directors, officers or employees, or by anyone acting on its behalf); 
b) any conduct, practices, behaviour or business activity by a financial services entity that falls below community standards and expectations; 
c) the use by a financial services entity of superannuation members’ retirement savings for any purpose that does not meet community standards and expectations or is otherwise not in the best interest of members; 
d) whether any findings in respect of paragraphs 1(a), (b) and (c): i. are attributable to the particular culture and governance practices of a financial services entity or broader cultural or governance practices in the industry or relevant subsector; and ii. result from other practices, including risk management, recruitment and remuneration practices; 
e) the effectiveness of mechanisms for redress for consumers of financial services who suffer detriment as a result of misconduct by a financial service entity; 
f) the adequacy of: i. existing laws and policies of the Commonwealth (taking into account law reforms announced by the Government) relating to the provision of financial services; ii. the internal systems of financial services entities; and iii. forms of industry self-regulation, including industry codes of conduct; to identify, regulate and address misconduct in the industry, to meet community standards and expectations and to provide appropriate redress to consumers and businesses; 
g) the effectiveness and ability of regulators of a financial services entity to identify and address misconduct by those entities; 
h) whether any further changes to: i. the legal framework; ii. practices within financial services entities; and ii. the financial regulators, are necessary to minimise the likelihood of misconduct by financial services entities in future (taking into account any law reforms announced by the Government); and 
i). any matter reasonably incidental to a matter mentioned in the above paragraphs, 1(a) – 1(h). 
2. In conducting its inquiry the Commission should give priority to matters which in its opinion, have greater potential for harm if not addressed expeditiously. 
3. Inquiring into the matters set out in paragraph (1)(f), the Commission:
a) must have regard to the implications of any changes to laws, that the Commission proposes to recommend, for the economy generally, for access to and the cost of financial services for consumers, for competition in the financial sector, and for financial system stability; and 
b) may have regard to comparable international experience, practices and reforms. 
4. However, the Commission is not required to inquire, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that to do so might prejudice, compromise or duplicate: 
a) another inquiry or investigation; or 
b) a criminal or civil proceeding. 
And, the Commission may choose not to inquire into certain matters otherwise within the scope of this Inquiry, but any such decision will be the Commission’s, alone. 
5. The Commission is not required to inquire into, and may not make recommendations in relation to macro-prudential policy, regulation or oversight. 
6. The Commission may submit to the Government an interim report no later than September 2018 and must submit a final report within 12 months. The final report is to contain: a) its findings; and b) any recommendations relevant to the inquiry that the Commission thinks fit. 
financial service entity means an entity (other than a Commonwealth entity or company) that is:
a) an ADI (authorised deposit-taking institution) within the meaning of the Banking Act 1959
b) an entity that carries on the business of undertaking liability, by way of insurance (including reinsurance), in respect of any loss or damage, including liability to pay damages or compensation, contingent upon the happening of a specified event, including: i. a general insurer within the meaning of the Insurance Act 1973; and ii. an entity undertaking life insurance business within the meaning of the Life Insurance Act 1995
c) a person or entity required by section 911A of the Corporations Act 2001 to hold an Australian financial services licence or who is exempt from the requirement to hold a licence by virtue of being an authorised representative; or 
d) an RSE licensee of a registrable superannuation entity (as that term is defined in the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993) and any entity that has any connection (other than an incidental connection) to the RSE licensee of a registrable superannuation entity. 
Macro-prudential policy and regulation means policy and regulation, including as to the structure, role and purpose of financial regulators, that is concerned with containing systemic risk, which can have widespread implications for the financial system as a whole, beyond simply the banking system. 
misconduct includes conduct that 
a) constitutes an offence against a Commonwealth, State or Territory law in relation to the provision of a financial service, as existed at the time of the alleged misconduct; or 
b) is misleading and/or deceptive; or 
c) indicates a breach of trust or duty or unconscionable conduct; or 
d) breaches a professional standard or a recognised and widely adopted (conduct) benchmark.

States and Secret Treaties

'The Survival of the Secret Treaty: Publicity, Secrecy and Legality in the International Order' (University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 56/2017) by Megan Donaldson comments
This article offers the first detailed history of the norm of treaty publication as it has evolved over the last century. Drawing on both public debates and archives of foreign ministries, it traces how, and why, secret treaties have persisted, even in liberal democracies. It challenges assumptions of ever-greater transparency over time, and complicates the associations made — by interwar reformers and international lawyers today — between the norm of treaty publication and ideals of legality in the international order.
Clark states
Concern about “secret diplomacy” in the wake of World War I found its clearest expression in opposition to “secret treaties.” Left-leaning and internationalist groups believed that “publicity” of treaties1 would advance the control of foreign policy by legislatures and citizens, and help construct a more peaceful international order, governed by law rather than power politics. Article 18 of the Covenant of the League of Nations gave expression to these ideals, by purporting to render the binding force of treaties entered into by any member of the League conditional on their registration by the League Secretariat. Registration in turn entailed publication to the world at large.  Article 18 was thus the first instantiation of a norm of treaty publication in international law (with “treaty” here understood in the general international law sense). Admittedly, this norm was a relatively narrow one. It guaranteed only the publication of treaties once made, and did not address the secrecy of the negotiation phase. Nevertheless, it was a major change to law and diplomatic practice. Aspects of Article 18 were carried over into Article 102 of the UN Charter, which in turn was echoed in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). 
This article offers the first detailed history of the norm of treaty publication. It traces the emergence of the norm, and struggles over its interpretation and application, through the practice of the United States, Britain, and France. While these three states are not representative of the international community as a whole (neither in the interwar period nor today), their commitment to greater publicity, and influence over modes of diplomacy, makes them a revealing lens on the norm and its limits. The article draws on public debates in legislatures, international organizations, and legal scholarship, but also discussions within foreign ministries and the League of Nations Secretariat. Analysis from these diverse sources offers a clearer picture of the true legal architecture of publicity and secrecy in treaty practice. It suggests how, and why, margins for secrecy have persisted, even in liberal democracies, and draws out for critical scrutiny the relationship between the norm of treaty publication and legality in the international order.  
The article challenges the liberal democratic trajectory some might expect, namely ever- greater publicity over time. It shows that, while statesmen and officials made real efforts to uphold the publication norm, they also fought to preserve some avenue for making commitments that were both legally binding and secret. In international law, the radical potential of Article 18 of the Covenant—the connection it forged between registration and publication, on one hand, and binding force, on the other—was undone in the early years of the League. Article 102 of the Charter is less ambitious than its predecessor. Domestic law requirements, which arguably play as great a role in driving publication as international requirements, have also left avenues for secrecy, although these have been narrowed and systematized. 
Within liberal democracies, the article shows that general attitudes to the norm of publication were driven not only by factors like perceived geopolitical vulnerability, but also national political and legal cultures, and even the bureaucratic organization of the treaty apparatus. Specific efforts to carve out exceptions to the norm of publication, or decisions to flout it, were motivated by diverse considerations: perceived needs to preserve some concrete advantage over military or commercial rivals, to stabilize markets or currencies, and to prevent political opposition from national populations, colonies, or allies; but also to conceal markers of inferiority or subordination in interstate relations, and thus shore up a symbolic economy of interstate equality. For bodies charged with upholding the norm, like the League Secretariat, maintaining the force of Article 18 was important for credibility with internationalist constituencies, but there were countervailing incentives to interpret the provision narrowly in order to avoid confronting—and being seen to be defeated by—powerful member states. 
Many motivations for secrecy on the part of governments and institutions were self- interested and instrumental. However, officials and reformists also thought about secrecy in principled terms. On occasion, they reconsidered the normative case against secrecy that had been seen as persuasive in 1919. Some came to doubt whether secrecy was always inimical, for example, to peaceful ordering. In some instances, it seemed vital to preserve peaceful relations.
The doubts of contemporaries suggest enduring questions about whether and how the norm of treaty publication favors ends like democracy, peace, and legality. This article probes, in particular, the relationship between publicity and legality in the international order. In doing so, it gives a sense of the complex empirical terrain in which questions about democracy and peace, too, would have to be pursued. Actors concerned with publicity articulated different dimensions of the relationship between publicity and legality. Simplified for the sake of analysis, much of the discussion about publicity posited, first, a basic conceptual or normative connection to legality. This could take the form of assertions that legal relations and obligations were inherently public, or that they ought to be public. Second, there was an expectation that the norm of treaty publication would strengthen the role of law in the international order more generally (for example, by improving the dissemination and coherence of the law itself, fostering a commitment on the part of governments to following the law, or levelling out power imbalances between states and vindicating sovereign equality). This combined a general normative sensibility with a number of very condensed assumptions about the effects of publication or secrecy in particular contexts. Finally, there was confidence in law as a means of entrenching the norm of publication. This article shows that each of these stylized dimensions of the relationship between publicity and legality proved more complex—empirically and conceptually—than it had seemed in 1919.
The article intersects with doctrinal scholarship on the law of treaties and emergent research on why states craft interstate commitments in particular ways. However, doctrinal scholarship—cited very sparingly here—often concentrates on problems of classification, like the definition of a treaty6 and distinctions between legally binding “treaties” and “gentlemen’s” or “non-binding” agreements;  or on questions which flow from classification of texts, like the role of ancillary texts in interpretation.  By contrast, emergent research on why states make agreements in the form they do largely brackets these questions. This article puts the law at the heart of the inquiry. Unlike doctrinal scholarship, though, it is not aimed at reaching its own classification of the texts considered. Rather, it probes what interlocutors understood themselves to be doing in drafting or handling texts in particular ways.
Attention to these features of treaty practice, often side-lined in doctrinal accounts, gives a much richer picture of the true architecture of publicity and secrecy. It reveals the possibilities created by the interplay of the law of treaties with diplomatic crafts of drafting, and the management of texts within foreign ministry bureaucracies. It suggests a more expansive canvas for states crafting their commitments than can be captured in many studies of state behavior. Governments are not only choosing between treaties and non-binding agreements, for example, but crafting complexes of different texts, making choices about presentation and emphasis which are difficult to capture in quantitative ways. Officials are sometimes uncertain about the status of particular texts, in disagreement with each other, or consciously shaping textual forms to preserve ambiguity about legal status. Finally, close attention to the crafting of texts and the negotiation of the bounds of the category of treaty brings to the fore some paradoxical aspects of secrecy in the international legal order. Secret treaties, by their nature, will never enjoy many avenues for rhetorical or institutional enforcement typically associated with legally binding commitments. They might even thus reflect a faith in legal obligation alone to shape state behavior. Conversely, however, some secret treaties purport to commit states to actions which may violate international law, calling broader commitments to legality into question. 
The article begins with a brief overview of the pre-World War I (WWI) landscape (Part I). It then traces the emergence of Article 18, and the tacit qualification of this provision in the early years of the League’s existence (Part II), before addressing interwar confrontations with a comprehensive publication norm in national public law and practice (Part III). While interwar developments are considered in detail, as they shaped approaches taken after World War II (WWII), the treatment of national practice is necessarily selective, focusing on examples which illustrate the range of areas in which secrecy was sought, the repertoire of techniques used, and particular turning points in national approaches. The article then considers the transformation of the treaty publication norm after WWII, a period for which the archival material becomes scarcer (Part IV). It sketches the evolution of techniques of secrecy, and changing legal approaches to its management, from WWII to the present (Part V), before offering a snapshot of the secret treaty today (Part VI). Finally, it summarizes developments over the last century, and what they reveal about the empirical landscape in which to consider the relationship of publicity to democracy, peace and legality in future (Part VII).
'The Future of State Sovereignty' (King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2017-42) by Joseph Raz comments
Advances in the legalisation of international relations, and the growing number of international organisations raise the question whether state sovereignty had its day. The paper defines sovereignty in a way that allows for degrees of sovereignty. Its analysis assumes that while sovereignty has become more limited, a trend which may continue, there is no sign that it is likely to disappear. The paper offers thoughts towards a normative analysis of these developments and the prospects they offer. Advocates of progress towards world government, while wise to many of current defects, are blind to the evils that a world government will breed, and to the advantages of relatively sovereign political societies. The paper identifies the advantages of the legalisation of international relations, and the growth of international bodies. The dilemma of internationalisation is that its advantages can be obtained only if international organs acquire some of the characteristics of successful sovereign political societies, in attracting the loyalty and shaping the sense of identity of their members – a faraway prospect. The best we can hope for is a mix international regime of relatively sovereign states subject to extensive regulation by international organisations and laws. That requires a pluralistic jurisprudence of international organisations, allowing for great local diversity, of which we have so far seen only small beginnings.


'The Construction of Homosexuality in New Zealand Judicial Writing' by Edward Clark in (2006) 37 Victoria University of Wellington Law Review 199 comments
This article examines the language used by New Zealand judges to describe homosexuality. It analyses the use of such language in judgments delivered after the decriminalisation of homosexual intercourse in 1986, examining the effect that judicial language has on rights claims made by homosexuals. 
The article argues that a significant number of judges are careless or ill-­informed in the language they use to refer to homosexuality and that the language used reinforces and repeats a number of negative stereotypes about homosexuality, constructing it as inferior to a heterosexual norm. This article criticises such careless or prejudiced language as incompatible with New Zealand’s human rights commitments and argues that this language constitutes a barrier to the full enjoyment of citizenship by homosexual New Zealanders.

12 December 2017

Digital Rights

Last month's Digital Rights in Australia report by Gerard Goggin, Ariadne Vromen, Kimberlee Weatherall, Fiona Martin, Adele Webb, Lucy Sunman, and Francesco Bailo at the University of Sydney comments that
Australians are some of the world’s greatest users of social media and mobile broadband, and our nation is in the top ten globally for internet use. At a time when our use of these technologies is increasingly redefining aspects of our personal and professional lives, Digital Rights in Australia explores urgent questions about the nature of our rights now and into the future. 
 The report covers
rights issues in four areas: privacy, profiling and analytics; government data matching and surveillance; workplace change; and freedom of expression and speech regulation. It explores the ethical and legal challenges we face in using digital, networked technologies and the debates we are having about how to best manage their transformative impacts. 
Crucially this study examines the major role of private, transnational digital platforms in reshaping the way we work, study and conduct business, our interactions with government and with each other. 
This report draws on three sources of data: a national survey of the attitudes and opinions of 1600 Australians on key rights issues; focus group discussion of related rights scenarios; and analysis of legal, policy and governance issues, illustrated by case studies. 
It's core findings are -
 Privacy, Profiling, Data Analytics
  • Australians are concerned about their online privacy. While two thirds of our respondents believe they personally have nothing to hide, only a small group (18%) think that more general concerns about online privacy are exaggerated. 
  • A majority of our respondents do not feel in control of their privacy online. While a majority take active steps to protect their privacy (67%), and have changed settings on the social media they use most often (61%), a minority (38%) felt that they can control their privacy online. 
  • Women experience the online world differently from men: they are more likely to agree that they actively protect their privacy online (71%, compared with 63% of men) and change their social media settings (63%, compared with 58% of men), but feel no more in control of their privacy (39%, compared with 38% of men). 
  • There may be a significant group for whom the answer to questions relating to privacy online are: “it depends” (this contrasts with answers about governments and privacy). 
  • Corporations were the major source of concern: 57% were concerned about their privacy being violated by corporations, although a substantial number were also concerned about privacy violations by government (47%) and other people (47%). 
  • A large majority (78%) want to know what social media companies do with their personal data. 
  • In the online focus group, participants’ views were mixed on the use of data in targeted advertising and price discrimination. But there was a consensus that content targeting for political purposes is different: for example, paying a social media platform to boost a negative opinion article about a rival party to users in marginal seats was seen as crossing a line.
Government Data Matching and Surveillance
  • Nearly half of our respondents were concerned about government violating their privacy (47%). 
  • A majority are opposed to government programs for phone companies and internet service providers to keep metadata on phone calls and web use. 79% of respondents considered retention of information about phone calls to be a privacy breach. A majority (58%) were also opposed to a policy for government-mandated retention of information about internet communications. 
  • But a change in frame altered these numbers. When asked whether they favour law enforcement and security agencies being able to access metadata, the number in favour jumped up to 42% (47% opposed). Once framed as an anti-terrorism measure, government data-gathering about internet is supported by a majority of respondents (57%), while only 31% oppose a program described this way. 
  • Our findings highlight the critical importance of the framing of questions when assessing public support for data collection and sharing, and interpreting survey results. 
  • Respondents’ attitudes towards both government collection of communications data, and government data matching programs, varied significantly depending on political identification. Respondents who identified with the Coalition were significantly more likely to support programs; identification with the Greens made a respondent more likely to oppose such programs. 
  • There is considerable ambivalence among the survey participants towards online government data matching programs. We found that 42% are in favour and 45% are opposed to a program that tracks citizen use of public services and benefits. Our online focus group was also sharply divided on a range of data matching scenarios put to them.
  • Digital privacy at work matters. Most Australians do not think employers should look at their employees’ social media pages. While 37% agreed that it was acceptable for either prospective or current employers to look at public social media posts; only 20% agreed that it was ok for either current or prospective employers to look at private posts. 
  • High school educated, those not working in professional/skilled work, and respondents over 40, were most concerned about employers accessing their social media posts. 
  • Only 16% of people agreed that using social media was an important part of their job, but most workplaces (72%) they were in had a policy about using social media while at work. Most workplaces seem to recognize the everyday ubiquity of social media use and are attempting to govern it, though only 46% of respondents said their workplace had a policy on what they post online. 
  • In this terrain of unclear directions over social media at work and employers’ rights to access posts, our online discussion groups reinforced that privacy boundaries are important, but also that employees needed to use their own “common sense”. 
  • The encroachment of some new policy agendas, such as that seen in the case study of the Public Service Commission, needs to better reflect citizens’ desires for digital privacy at, and from, work. 
  • The app driven, online gig economy presents a new space for digital rights analysis. Most respondents have heard of, but not used, a platform such as Uber, Airtasker or Deliveroo; and use is skewed towards those under 40 and the university educated. 
  • Australians see gig work as providing workers with more flexibility, but at the same time a majority are also concerned about the financial insecurity of this kind of work. Over 60% believe that these new forms of work need new government regulations. Yet, as shown in the case study, institutionalising fairer regulations is fraught.
  • Australians are not strongly wedded to the North American ideal of absolute speech freedom online. Just over a third (37%) of those surveyed agreed that they should “be free to say and do what I want online”, but 30% disagreed and a third expressed reservations about the idea. People were also less supportive of others having that absolute freedom than themselves. 
  • 50% of Australians agreed that everyone should have the right to online anonymity or pseudonymity, a figure that increases to 57% for those under 40 years. Around a third of younger Australians said it was more likely that they would make honest and open comment on the news, talk about sensitive topics like sexuality or question others’ opinions if they had the opportunity to comment anonymously. 
  • Men are more likely to assert their right to free expression than women, reflecting the male dominance of everyday speech online as much as of offline. 
  • Gender is a key variable in understanding attitudes to social media regulation. Men were less likely than women to agree with the need to remove within 24 hours instances of sexual harassment, abuse targeted at an individual, or hate speech that encourages violence against others. Women were less supportive than men of the right to anonymity. 
  • While most Australians had not experienced negative impacts from risky or harmful online speech, 39% have been affected by mean or abusive remarks and 27% have had personal content posted without consent. Our case study on image-based abuse emphasises the need for law reform and educational strategies to address new privacy and speech rights breaches. 
  • More than was the case for either work or privacy issues, Australians agreed on the need for more regulation of online discussion environments. They flagged the need for increased involvement by social media platforms in content moderation and ‘easy’ complaints reporting. 
  • There was a perception gap between people’s belief that harmful social media content was easy to get taken down, and the procedural reality that it is not always straightforward and may require regulatory intervention to persuade the host company to act, as the European Commission hate speech case study suggests.

Citizenship Shopping

'State Inc.' by Tsilly Dagan and Talia Fisher in (2018) Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy comments
 Conventional wisdom holds that citizenship is not a consumer good and that the goods that the state confers upon its constituents - e.g., economic and social rights, access to its publicly provided goods, political voice and identity - are not for sale. In fact the relationships between states and actual or potential citizens is ideally conceptualized as standing in stark contrast to a seller-buyer relationship. The ideal type of state-citizen relationship is based in an entirely political sphere disconnected from the market. In accordance with this ideal conceptualization of the state-citizen relationship, the state is depicted as the legal guardian of citizenship entrusted with authority to determine who its members are and to exercise its powers in a manner that is compatible with the underlying normative values shared by its political members. It has an obligation to reinforce and represent the politically pronounced collective will. Being a citizen, according to this view, translates into being a member of a political community, participating in its deliberative process and as such bearing rights vis a vis the state and being entitled to the benefits it confers.
This ideal depiction of the relationship between the state and its actual or potential citizens is not, however, fully aligned with current reality where we are witness to gradual erosion of various dimensions of state-citizen relationship and an infiltration of market logic into this interaction. States seemingly desert their role as trustees of citizenship and assume a market player position, recruiting human capital and investments by putting their real and political assets up for grabs. They engage in the sale and barter of various aspects of membership in their polities and at times even in the sale or barter of full-fledged citizenship. Individuals as well, shop for citizenship, residency, work and other permits as well as for additional goods that states provide.
We argue that in order to fully account for this process of market infiltration into the realm of citizenship both on a descriptive and a normative level, one needs to widen the perspective through which state-citizen interaction is viewed. The ideal depiction of a distinct separation between the political sphere and the market realm fails to take into account the fact that the state-citizen relationship does not stand in a vacuum. Rather, it is part of a greater market order plagued with democratic and political deficits. In this decentralized order states themselves inevitably participate and function as market players vis a vis other states. They compete for capital and human resources by offering their public goods and political participation for sale. This market thus conflates monetary and political currency, and puts a price tag on political membership. At the same time, individuals and corporations compete for state-provided membership, rights, and public goods.
Competition does not only change the strategic positions of states and citizens in pursuing their goals. It percolates into the interaction between states and their subjects (their current citizenry as well as potential constituents) altering traditional roles of both states and citizens; it changes the kinds and quantities of public goods and entitlements being offered, it alters modes of democratic participation, schemes of distribution as well as the meanings and values underlying the state-citizen interaction.
The purpose of this Article is twofold: first, on a descriptive level we wish to uncover existing manifestations of the market infiltration into the state-citizen interaction. We will discuss how globalization reshapes this interaction’s phenomenology as well as the strategic goals of both states and citizens. Second, on the normative plane we explore and evaluate the marketization and fragmentation of the state-citizen relationship in light of central normative criteria--efficiency, distributive justice, autonomy identity and political participation.
Part A will focus on the descriptive dimension and unravel real world practices where state-citizen relationships are being marketized in full or in part. These examples of selling citizenship a-la carte will demonstrate the infiltration of the market into the political sphere and how market forces shape both the identity of the polity, and the formation of the collective will.
Against the backdrop of these markets for citizenship induced by state competition, part B will turn to the normative discussion evaluating the desirability of markets for citizenship.


'Privacy As Protection of the Incomputable Self: Agonistic Machine Learning' by Mireille Hildebrandt comments
This paper takes the perspective of law and philosophy, integrating insights from computer science. First, I will argue that in the era of big data analytics we need an understanding of privacy that is capable of protecting what is uncountable, incalculable or incomputable about individual persons. To instigate this new dimension of the right to privacy I expand previous work on the relational and ecological nature of privacy and the productive indeterminacy of human identity. Second, I will explain that this does not imply a rejection of machine learning, based on a more in-depth study of the assumptions, operations and implications of the practice of machine learning – highlighting its alignment with purpose limitation as core to its methodological integrity. Instead of rejecting machine learning, I advocate a practice of ‘agonistic machine learning’ as core to scientifically viable integration of data-driven applications into our environments while simultaneously bringing them under the Rule of Law. This should also provide the best means to achieve effective protection against overdetermination of individuals by machine inferences.

11 December 2017

Nudges and Capabilities

'The Folly of Categorization: Why Nudges are Even More Defensible than Their Advocates Suppose' by Douglas Husak in (2016) 14 The Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy comments
Count me among those philosophers who believe that most of the normative controversies about nudging or so-called libertarian paternalism are vastly overblown. I hope we are many, but it is hard to be sure. Nearly all of the worries brought against nudges qua nudges expressed by or attributed to moral philosophers are misdirected and/or exaggerated. My modest goal is to support this claim by attempting to show that Cass R. Sunstein—who almost certainly is the most well-known champion of nudges or libertarian paternalism—takes several of the philosophical objections to his proposals too seriously and responds to them less forcefully than he might.
'Working With And For Animals: Getting The Theoretical Framework Right’ by Martha Nussbaum in (2017) 94(4) Denver Law Review 609 comments
Friends of animals have lots to complain about and lots of work to do. To the familiar list of horrors—torture of animals in the meat industry, misery inflicted on puppies by puppy mills, the damages of research using animals, the manifold harms endemic to the confinement of apes and elephants in zoos, we have some further issues that have only become issues in the past few decades: depletion of whale stocks by harpooning, the confinement of orcas and dolphins in marine theme parks, the poaching of elephants and rhinos for the international black market, the illicit trafficking of elephants from Africa into U.S. zoos, the devastation of habitat for many large mammals through climate change. New issues arise all the time. The world needs an ethical revolution, a consciousness raising movement of truly international proportions. 
But bad behavior also needs law. No major crimes against sentient beings have been curbed by ethics alone, without the coercive force of law—although it typically takes an ethical movement to goad law into action. And so far, both in the U.S. and in the international community, law has been lagging behind the evolving ethical consciousness of humanity. Animals still lack standing under both U.S. and international law. They also lack any rights of ethical consideration. All human animals are treated as persons and ends (no matter how immature the human is), but all non-human animals are treated as mere things, as property. Law must find ways to make animals legal subjects and not mere objects. We need to move toward a world in which human beings are truly Friends of Animals, not exploiters or users. 
To make progress, we need theoretical approaches that are sound in terms of reality, grappling with what we know about animals, and that also direct law in a useful fashion. In this Article I will examine two extremely influential approaches to animal entitlements in philosophy, both of which have implications for law and policy: the “So Like Us” approach and the “Least Common Denominator” approach. I shall argue that both are defective intellectually, and also in terms of strategy. A version of the Capabilities Approach, an approach to justice for both humans and other animals that I have developed over the years, does far better in directing ethical attention. Does it also do better in directing legal strategy?
‘The Legal Status of Whales: capabilities, entitlements and culture’ by Rachel Nussbaum Wichert and Martha C. Nussbaum in (2016) 72 Sequência (Florianópolis) comments
Whales, among our planet's most majestic, mysterious, powerful, and intelligent beings, are profoundly endangered. International law has for some time attempted to protect them from extinction. Our paper addresses the legal status of whales and argues that they should be regarded as creatures with rights, not simply as commodities. Currently, international law does not recognize whales as creatures with rights. International organizations, particularly the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its founding document, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), have focused on the issue of overfishing and have allowed exceptions to usual standards based both on the alleged needs of scientific research (in the case of Japan) and on the alleged claims of culture (in the case of aboriginal groups in the Arctic).
 The authors state
In a related paper, we have explored the moral basis of animal entitlements, in the context of evolving legal debates about whether animals can be granted "standing" to approach a court of law (through an advocate, as is now the case with human with severe disabilities)1. Many animal rights activists have urged that the best basis for legal (and moral) standing for animals is suffering, an approach that can be traced to Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism. While we support Bentham's radical extension of moral concern to all sentient beings, we argue that suffering is not the only relevant notion. Intelligence and the ability to be social are qualities that are at least as important. Indeed, there is a strong case for considering cetaceans "non-human persons" and according them legal rights, most importantly standing to sue in their own right. Whales cannot be said to be "like" humans in terms of DNA, but they have their own form of intelligence and deserve protection under the law. 
On the other hand, we reject as misguidedly anthropocentric the form of this argument that exalts intelligence above physical suffering. Each animal species has its own form of life, and each deserves opportunities to flourish in its own way. We argue that ultimately the best philosophical approach to these issues is an analysis of animal lives in terms of a range of distinct but related capabilities, intertwined into a form of life. This approach, however, has never been accepted in either domestic or international law, despite years of argument by environmental groups urging courts to treat marine mammals as creatures with moral and legal rights.
They conclude
If environmentalism and conservation are an important part of the IWC's mission, it is well placed to take action on the specific question of whale protection. It is the major organization specifically focused on whales. In the process, it should also consider the threat posed by climate change. If significant portions of the Arctic open up for commercial oil and gas drilling in the future, this will pose further dangers for the marine mammals who live there and for their entire ecosystem. 
The issue, then, ultimately comes back to the moral and legal question of standing. By now most of the international community agrees that the harms done by cultural traditions must be limited in the name of human rights. But they don't reach the same conclusion about marine mammals, because they do not grant them legal or moral standing. The international community must decide: are whales person-like beings with legal entitlements, or are they not? At present, they are not, under customary international law. But customary international law is at odds, here, with moral reasoning grounded on empirical fact, and at odds with the moral judgments of a growing proportion of the international community. The romanticization of traditional whaling is no more morally defensible than the romanticization of domestic violence and child prostitution. Whales are person-like beings with intelligence, social interactions, and the capacity for not just suffering but a wide range of experiences and activities. The time has come for international law in general, and the IWC in particular, to recognize this.

Witches and Institutional Capacity

'Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France' (GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-47, 2012) by Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama comments
 How is rule of law established? We address this question by exploring the causal effect of increases in fiscal capacity on the establishment of well enforced, formal, legal standards in a pre-industrial economy. Between 1550 and 1700 there were over 2,000 witch trials in France. Prosecuting a witch required a significant deviation from formal rules of evidence by local judges. Hence we exploit the significant variation across time and space in witch trials and fiscal capacity across French regions between 1550 and 1700 to show that increases in fiscal capacity caused increased adherence to the formal rule of law. As fiscal capacity increased, local judges increasingly upheld de jure rules and the frequency of witch trials declined.

Markets and Corporate Personhood

'The Institutions of Roman Markets' by Benito Arruñada in Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci (ed.), Roman Law and Economics vol. 2 (Oxford University Press, 2018) comments
I analyze the basis of the market economy in classical Rome, from the perspective of personal-versus-impersonal exchange and focusing on the role of the state in providing market-enabling institutions. I start by reviewing the central conflict in all exchanges between those holding and those acquiring property rights, and how solving it requires reducing information asymmetry without endangering the security of property. Relying on a model of the social choice of institutions, I identify the demand and supply factors driving the institutional choices made by the Romans, and examine the economic circumstances that influenced these factors in the classical period of Roman law. Comparing the predictions of the model with the main solutions used by Roman law in the areas of property, business exchange and the enforcement of personal obligations allows me to propose alternative interpretations for some salient institutions that have been subject to controversy in the literature, and to conclude with an overall positive assessment of the market-enabling role of the Roman state.
'Brexit and Corporate Citizenship' by John Armour, Holger Fleischer, Vanessa Jane Knapp and Martin Winner  in (2017) 19(2) European Business Organization Law Review 225-249 comments 
The UK’s recent vote for Brexit has sparked a fierce debate over the implications for the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the rest of the EU. So far, however, there has been relatively little discussion of the implications of Brexit for legal persons – that is, corporate citizens of the EU, which may also be profoundly affected by consequent changes. The ECJ’s 1999 decision in Centros made clear that the freedom of establishment protects the entitlement of corporate persons formed in one EU Member State to carry on their business in another Member State. Since then, many entrepreneurs in continental European countries have chosen to form companies in the UK, while still carrying on their business in their home country. What will the consequences of Brexit be for such companies? 
'Designing Against Discrimination in Online Markets' by Karen EC Levy and Solon Barocas (2018) 32 Berkeley Technology Law Journal comments
 Platforms that connect users to one another have flourished online in domains as diverse as transportation, employment, dating, and housing. When users interact on these platforms, their behavior may be influenced by preexisting biases, including tendencies to discriminate along the lines of race, gender, and other protected characteristics. In aggregate, such user behavior may result in systematic inequities in the treatment of different groups. While there is uncertainty about whether platforms bear legal liability for the discriminatory conduct of their users, platforms necessarily exercise a great deal of control over how users’ encounters are structured—including who is matched with whom for various forms of exchange, what information users have about one another during their interactions, and how indicators of reliability and reputation are made salient, among many other features. Platforms cannot divest themselves of this power; even choices made without explicit regard for discrimination can affect how vulnerable users are to bias. This Article analyzes ten categories of design and policy choices through which platforms may make themselves more or less conducive to discrimination by users. In so doing, it offers a comprehensive account of the complex ways platforms’ design choices might perpetuate, exacerbate, or alleviate discrimination in the contemporary economy.

28 November 2017


The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee report Law of contempt recommends 'that the submissions received to this inquiry be referred to any future Senate inquiry into contempt'.

The Committee was tasked in August 2017 with reporting by 25 November on
(a) the recommendations of the 1987 Australian Law Reform Commission report on contempt and, in particular, the recommendation that the common law principles of contempt be abolished and replaced by statutory provisions; 
(b) the recommendations of the 2003 New South Wales Law Reform Commission on contempt by publication and the need to achieve clarity and precision in the operation of the law on sub-judice contempt; 
(c) the development and operation of statutory provisions in Australia and overseas that codify common law principles of contempt; 
(d) the importance of balancing principles, including freedom of speech and expression, the right of fair trial by an impartial tribunal, public scrutiny of the operations of the court system and the protection of the authority, reputation and due process of the courts; and 
(e) any other related matters.
The committee received six submissions

The report states that
On 7 April 1983, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) was referred an inquiry which sought to consider the following forms of contempt:
• improper behaviour in court; 
• attempting to influence participants in proceedings; 
• failing to comply with a court order or an undertaking given to a court; and 
• contempt by publication.
In June 1987 the ALRC tabled its final report, Contempt, which made 124 recommendations. ... In essence, the ALRC recommended that the common law principles of contempt be abolished and replaced by statutory provisions which would govern all Federal Courts except the High Court of Australia. 
On 14 July 1998, the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales (NSWLRC) was asked to inquire into the law of contempt by publication. Specifically, the terms of reference were:
To inquire into, and report on, whether the law and procedures relating to contempt by publication are adequate and appropriate, including whether and in what circumstances, a person against whom a charge of contempt is found proven should be liable to pay, an addition to any criminal penalty, the costs (of the government and of the parties) of a criminal trial aborted as a result of the contempt
The report, Contempt by publication, was published in June 2003 and subsequently tabled in the NSW Parliament on 16 September 2003. The committee made 39 recommendations .... The report noted that to codify contempt by publication, while leaving the common law to regulate other forms of contempt, would not have the effect of achieving clarity over the operation of contempt laws. However, the report recommended significant legislative reform in the area of contempt by publication, 'while allowing the common law to continue to develop.'
Codification of the law of contempt 
The views of submitters relating to whether or not contempt laws should be codified were mixed. The Legal Service's Commission of South Australia (LSC) supported the codification of contempt laws arguing that this would achieve greater clarity for defendants and consistency in the manner in which sanctions were being imposed. The LSC made the following suggest[ion]s if contempt laws were to be codified:
• that a catch all provision be included in the definition of contempt so that unforeseen incidents of contempt are not excluded; 
• that contempt in the Family Courts take into account its unique role and be tailored to its unique priorities, such as the welfare of children; and 
• if contempt is to be dealt with entirely in the criminal courts, then it should not be dealt with summarily and the defendant have the right to request the matter be heard by a different judicial officer.
The Law Council of Australia (Law Council), expressed the view that contempt laws currently operate 'satisfactorily', although it was not opposed to the codification of contempt laws in line with the recommendations of the ALRC and the NSWLRC reports. However, in noting its broad support for the codification of the law of contempt, the Law Council explained the importance of retaining certain principals such as flexibility and freedom of expression: 
Despite its support for efforts to codify rules of contempt, the Law Council is conscious of the special role contempt plays in the judicial system and considers it to be critical that any measures to codify the law of contempt retain as much flexibility and discretion as possible to allow judicial officers to appropriately deal with issues arising from contempt of court on a case-by-case basis.
The nature of contempt demands a complex balancing of interests, most notably between freedom of expression on one hand and the integrity of the justice system on the other. In this regard, the Law Council emphasises the need for reform proposals to remain cognisant of the fundamental importance of the administration of justice and the contribution made by the law of contempt to preserving this. The reform proposals must also avoid unduly infringing principles of freedom of expression and open justice.  
Should reforms to the law of contempt proceed, the Law Council made the following recommendations:
• Any reform to the laws of contempt should be co-ordinated between the Commonwealth and the States to achieve uniformity; 
• The recommendations of the ALRC that common law principles of contempt be recast as criminal offences should be implemented, to the extent that they do not already overlap with the criminal law; 
• The recommendations of the ALRC that contempt in the face of the court be replaced with a series of criminal offences to be tried summarily should be implemented; 
• The recommendations of the ALRC that civil contempt be replaced with a statutory regime of non-compliance proceedings should be implemented; 
• A "substantial risk" test proposed by the NSWLRC should be uniformly implemented in relation to contempt by publication; 
• Summary trial procedures for sub-judice contempt should be retained; 
• if contempt is to be dealt with entirely in the criminal courts, then it should not be dealt with summarily and the defendant have the right to request the matter be heard by a different judicial officer. 
• The public interest defence recommended by the NSWLRC in relation to contempt by publication should be implemented; 
• The law of contempt by publication should be reviewed to ensure that it applies to circumstances where an Internet Service Provider or Internet Content Host has been made aware of the material but, thereafter, fails or refuses to remove it.
The Law Council also recommended that they be consulted prior to any reforms relating to the law of contempt being introduced. 
 The NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) did not comment on the recommendations of the ALRC's report, however, stated that it 'supports the development of uniform statutory provisions governing the law of sub judice contempt.' The ODPP noted that since the NSWLRC's report of 2003, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were launched, which have significantly changed the media landscape, including in the manner and form in which media is being reported. As such, the ODPP suggested that '[t]he proposed legislation will need to take account of the changing media environment to ensure that all manner of publications are covered by the sub judice provisions, including the new and emerging social media platforms.' 
While the International Commission of Jurists Victoria (ICJ) described the NSWLRC's report as 'an extremely useful and comprehensive tool in discerning the relevant issues with respect to contempt by publication laws…', it argued against the broad codification of contempt laws. The ICJ disagreed with criticism that the laws of contempt were difficult to determine and potentially lacking in procedural fairness. It noted that the flexibility of the current law allows the courts to appropriately tailor their responses and that courts have shown that they are able to apply their powers in a 'fair and nuanced way'. Finally, the ICJ argued that it was essential that courts are able to initiate contempt proceedings on their own motion as this is vital to the exercise of their independence. 
The NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) did not comment on the recommendations of the ALRC's report, however, stated that it 'supports the development of uniform statutory provisions governing the law of sub judice contempt.' The ODPP noted that since the NSWLRC's report of 2003, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were launched, which have significantly changed the media landscape, including in the manner and form in which media is being reported. As such, the ODPP suggested that '[t]he proposed legislation will need to take account of the changing media environment to ensure that all manner of publications are covered by the sub judice provisions, including the new and emerging social media platforms.' 
A couple of submitters did not offer a view as to whether or not the law of contempt should be codified, however made the following observations: 
• the right to freedom of expression and the right to have a fair hearing can sometimes compete with one another but freedom of expression should not be misused to prejudice the prospects of a person obtaining justice before the courts;
• that the point of view and lore of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be considered.
The committee thanks all organisations and individuals who made submissions to this inquiry, though it notes that the number of submissions received is far lower than it had anticipated. Having received such limited input, the committee does not feel that it is in a position to properly inquire into this complex issue, or to form a considered view as to whether the laws of contempt should be codified. However, having regard to the important and considered views expressed in the submissions received, the committee recommends that the submissions be referred to any future Senate inquiry into contempt.

26 November 2017


'Surveying the Law of Emojis' (Santa Clara University Legal Studies Research Paper, 8-17) by Eric Goldman comments
Everyone loves emojis! It’s easy to see why. Historically, most online communications have emphasized text, and emojis add much-needed emotional content to text-driven communications—and often help people express themselves more precisely. Due to the enthusiastic embrace of emojis, we are witnessing a historic change in how we communicate online. 
This article surveys three significant ways the emoji revolution will impact the law. 
First, questions about what emojis mean will arise in a wide range of legal doctrines, from criminal law to contracts. Our standard interpretative tools generally can handle new communicative technologies, but several aspects of emojis will require careful consideration. Most significantly, senders and receivers will unexpectedly see different versions of an emoji due to technological intermediation, leading them to make reasonable—but different—interpretations of the same communication, with potentially adverse consequences for one or both parties. The article will explore some steps that would reduce the risks of these misunderstandings. 
Second, emojis will often qualify for copyright and trademark protection. However, IP protection encourages platforms to differentiate their emoji implementations, which exacerbates the risks of miscommunications and misunderstandings. To mitigate this outcome, IP protections for emojis should be interpreted narrowly. 
Third, emojis create some issues for judicial operations, including if and how judges will display emojis in their opinions, if emojis in court opinions will be searchable, and how best to present emojis as evidence to fact-finders.

23 November 2017


'Leak-Driven Law' by Shu-Yi Oei and Diane Ring in (2018) 65 UCLA Law Review comments
Over the past decade, a number of well-publicized data leaks have revealed the secret offshore holdings of high-net-worth individuals and multinational taxpayers, leading to a sea change in cross-border tax enforcement. Spurred by leaked data, tax authorities have prosecuted offshore tax cheats, attempted to recoup lost revenues, enacted new laws, and signed international agreements that promote “sunshine” and exchange of financial information between countries. 
The conventional wisdom is that data leaks enable tax authorities to detect and punish offshore tax evasion more effectively, and that leaks are therefore socially and economically beneficial. This Article argues, however, that the conventional wisdom is too simplistic. In addition to its clear benefits, leak-driven lawmaking carries distinctive risks, including the risk of agenda setting by third parties with specific interests and the risk associated with leaks’ capacity to trigger non-rational responses. Even where leak-driven lawmaking is beneficial overall, it is important to appreciate its distinctive downside risks, in order to best design policy responses. 
This Article is the first to thoroughly examine both the important beneficial effects of tax leaks, and their risks. It provides suggestions and cautions for making and enforcing tax law, after a leak, in order to best tap into the benefits of leaks while managing their pitfalls. 

08 November 2017

Postgrad Complaints

The NSW Ombudsman Discussion Paper Complaints about supervision of postgraduate students suggests steps that could be taken by universities to refine their policies and practices to specifically address conflicts that may arise in postgraduate supervisory arrangements.

The paper comments
The NSW Ombudsman has jurisdiction over all public universities in NSW – ten universities in all. We receive and investigate complaints from students about administrative actions relating to their enrolment, course progress, supervision and termination of their studies. At the Ombudsman’s office, we have worked with universities to develop tailored guidance for dealing with the unique issues that can arise in university complaints. An important stage in this work was in 2015 when we published, together with other Australian Ombudsman offices, Complaint Handling at Universities: Australasian Best Practice Guidelines. As the foreword to those guidelines observed about university complaints, ‘Mishandled complaints have a high potential cost, both financially and in damage to reputations’. For several years, we have been looking into complaints that relate to postgraduate supervision in NSW universities. We have received a steady number of these complaints and they are often complex and time consuming to examine. They are also often accentuated by career and personal concerns reflected in the breakdown of research relationships between postgraduate students and supervisors.
In January 2016, we released a draft discussion paper to university complaint handlers in NSW. There was strong interest in the topic, with submissions from universities and discussions between Ombudsman and university staff and with representatives from postgraduate student organisations.
We have now decided to take the issue a step further by publishing a revised discussion paper that will be made more widely available on our website. This revised paper builds on the consultation that has occurred to date. It includes a number of We invite submissions or comments from any interested parties by 31 January 2018 particularly examples of initiatives that have successfully resolved conflicts in postgraduate supervision. We will then decide if further action is needed to develop best practice guidelines or share practical examples and ideas among universities. ....
This project arose from the steady number of complaints the NSW Ombudsman has received over many years about postgraduate supervision in NSW universities. These complaints can be complex and take time and resources to examine. They often also have a personal aspect which makes them especially challenging to deal with.
In January 2016, we published a draft discussion paper for university complaint handlers and received many helpful submissions in reply. We also reviewed relevant university policies, surveyed all NSW universities, conducted follow-up interviews with university staff at each institution, and spoke with representatives of several postgraduate student organisations. This current discussion paper has resulted from those conversations and the strong interest that we have encountered on this topic.
Universities in NSW have told us that complaints by postgraduate students are not overall more frequent than other kinds of student complaints. Allegations of academic or non-academic misconduct in postgraduate supervision are not sustained after investigation any more often than other student allegations. However, universities generally recognise that there is a potential for postgraduate complaints to be complex and bitterly-contested and significant resources can be spent in dealing with them.
This discussion paper aims to help all those involved share what they feel to be best practice in complaint handling in this field. This will hopefully facilitate a constructive exchange of ideas and experience. There is no implicit suggestion in this project that universities have dealt poorly with these matters in the past, or that some universities have performed poorly compared to others. A number of universities have commented that the conversations leading to this discussion paper have been beneficial. For example, one university found that useful information it had published about dealing with conflicts between supervisors and students on a FAQ page on its website appeared only in the ‘for supervisors’ version of the page.
Universities have also moved of their own accord to address issues in response to the questions raised in our survey and follow-up interviews with interested parties. For example, some universities found that their policies were not as clear as they could be and have undertaken to revise them.
The paper comments that ' Difficulties and conflicts will always arise between postgraduate students and supervisors. The sensible path forward is therefore to develop a structured framework that acknowledges this possibility and implements steps to avoid or deal with it'. It accordingly suggests  ten strategies for inclusion in such a structured framework:
1. Universities should prepare accessible written guidelines for students and supervisors on dealing with conflicts and disputes – including counselling, appointing a new supervisor, and referring disputes for conciliation. These guidelines should advise students and supervisors that problems can arise in all supervisory relationships that are not the fault of either party.
2. Universities should consider developing or continuing a structured training program for supervisors on the skills of supervision. This training should contain practical advice on dealing with problems in the supervisory relationship, such as ‘having difficult conversations’.
3. Members of supervisory panels should be advised when they start their role to take note of signs of deterioration in supervisory relationships, and report these to the conflict resolution officer in postgraduate administration or the ‘mentor’ if one has been appointed to the panel.
4. Students and supervisors should be encouraged to keep a written record of their supervisory arrangements, expectations and mutual responsibilities. Both could be encouraged to co-sign any important records.
5. Universities should implement a procedure whereby a student, after their annual performance review, can submit a confidential report on perceived problems in their supervisory relationship.
6. Universities should nominate a designated officer – a ‘go-to’ person – that a student or supervisor can speak to if they are experiencing significant difficulties in a supervisory relationship. This designated officer (or panel of officers) could be located or administered by the central university office responsible for postgraduate administration. They could be given a recognisable title, such as ‘conflict resolution officer’.
7. A designated student ‘mentor’ could be appointed to the supervisory panel for each student who has changed their principal supervisor more than once – with the exception of changes arising from matters such as the death, illness, resignation or retirement of a supervisor. The mentor’s role would be to monitor the general supervisory relationship, independent of the substance of the research project. It should also be understood that the appointment of a mentor is not seen as a negative or punitive response to the changes in supervisory arrangements.  Universities could also consider, on an individual basis, whether a ‘mentor’ should be appointed to a supervisory panel in other special circumstances. For example, if the principal supervisor is undertaking supervision for the first time – or the principal supervisor was involved previously in a sustained formal grievance process or was the subject of serious allegations of bullying or harassment. Including the mentor on the supervisory panel should be seen as a safeguard measure to minimise potential problems and provide independent feedback to the supervisors – not as a performance management measure that reflects on the supervisor’s suitability.
8. Universities should consider establishing a panel of internal university mediators, conciliators or trained dispute-resolution specialists who are available – with the consent of the parties – to deal with unresolved conflicts between students and supervisors.
9. Universities should consider implementing a structured program for contacting students by email at designated stages of a research project, and inviting them to raise or discuss on a confidential basis any issues they may be experiencing with their supervision. The following is suggested text to include in the email:
The university recognises that postgraduate study can be stressful. The stress will be greater if you feel you have an unsatisfactory academic relationship with your supervisor. You may raise any concerns you have by replying to this email. Other options and procedures for dealing with problems you may be facing with your supervisor are outlined in the university’s guidance on postgraduate supervision, which is available at the following link: [a link to information on the university’s dispute–resolution or conciliation process]. If you believe your supervisor is acting improperly or unethically, you have the right to submit a formal grievance. The procedure for doing this is outlined in the university’s guidance on postgraduate supervision. The university will receive any concerns you raise on a confidential basis. However, it may be necessary to discuss an issue with your supervisor or members of the supervisory panel if we are going to further investigate your complaint. We will discuss this with you before contacting your supervisor.
10. Students should be made aware – both in their induction material and through other accessible policies or guidance material – of the independent complaint and appeal mechanisms that are available to them. This includes the right to complain to the NSW Ombudsman, the Australian Research Integrity Committee, The Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, and the Independent Commission Against Corruption – as well as professional bodies, schools or boards that regulate careers in certain occupations.


"Beyond Bitcoin – Legal Impurities and Off-Chain Assets' (Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 260/2017) by Chris Reed, Umamahesh, Sathyanarayan, Shuhui Ruan and Justine Collins comments 
Blockchain technology allows the creation of distributed ledgers. These distribute control among the players rather than requiring a centralised database, and so can reduce costs and speed up transactions. However, when it is used for assets which exist outside the blockchain itself, an unmodified adoption of the technology would bypass legal and regulatory requirements which, for these kinds of assets, cannot be bypassed without fundamental change to the law.
Building those requirements into any blockchain-based system introduces features which are not necessary for performing its core functions, and we call these ‘legal impurities’. The most important legal impurities required are those relating to identification of the parties, and introducing the ability of a trusted third party to make modifications to the ledger. Not only does introducing these legal impurities make fundamental changes to the concept behind blockchain, but it is also essential that they are implemented in ways which do not threaten the integrity of the blockchain as evidence.
'Is a ‘smart contract’ really a smart idea? Insights from a legal perspective' by  Mark Giancaspro in (2017) 33(6) Computer Law and Security Review 825-835  comments
Swift developments in the emerging field of blockchain technology have facilitated the birth of ‘smart contracts’: computerised transaction protocols which autonomously execute the terms of a contract. Smart contracts are disintermediated and generally transparent in nature, offering the promise of increased commercial efficiency, lower transaction and legal costs, and anonymous transacting. The business world is actively investigating the use of blockchain technology for various commercial purposes. Whilst questions surround the security and reliability of this technology, and the negative impact it may have upon traditional intermediaries, there are equally significant concerns that smart contracts will encounter considerable difficulty adapting to current legal frameworks regulating contracts across jurisdictions. This article considers the potential issues with legal and practical enforceability that arise from the use of smart contracts within both civil and common law jurisdictions.

07 November 2017


'African Drone Stories' by Kristin Sandvik in (2015) 8(2) Behemoth A Journal on Civilization comments
The process of normalizing drones throughout Africa has received little scholarly attention. Discussions of drone proliferation tend to assume that the drone industry is a monolithic, geographically concentrated entity, and that drone use will look the same and engender the same controversies, regardless of geography. The article aims to think through African drone proliferation by analyzing how drones and Africa are being construed as solutions to each other’s problems, and by exploring the interface between images of Africa and the notion of the drone as a game changer for development and security. The article also reads the African drone in the context of the early deployment of surveillance drones in Africa in the 1970s, as well as the legacy of technological imperialism and colonial airpower. The perception of Africa as being in need of external drone intervention dovetails with the drone industry’s efforts to identify and promote good uses for drones — efforts that are central to increasing the legitimacy of drones in the eyes of the Global North. Hence, the article argues that the ‘African drone’ has become a vehicle for the production and distribution of norms, resources, and forms of legitimacy that have implications for drone proliferation, both within and outside Africa.

History of Animal Law

'The Historical Development of Animal Welfare Law in Nineteenth Century Scotland' by Daniel James Carr examines 
the development of animal welfare in Scotland. Whilst the law developed in tandem with developments across nineteenth century Britain, the paper draws attention to the distinctive Scottish situation. By examining the development from disparate common law protections to the statutory interventions of the nineteenth century the paper charts that development, and begins to place it within nascent 'humanist' movements emerging around this time. The piece examines how the Scottish doctrinal law took a distinctive direction in decisions, and in particular considers contemporary opinion. The paper is the first to take a look at the particular Scottish development and opens up new avenues of research into the nineteenth century, and also frames developments in the modern law which I will pursue in future research.
Carr argues
This paper is confined to laying some historical groundwork by starting to look at the historical development of animal welfare law in Scotland. This is not a comprehensive treatment of the history of the legal development in Scotland: much of the paper is tentative, and, it also takes account of developments in England. It is hoped that this contribution might stimulate further research. Hopefully, the chapter will come to be situated within a broader possible research project on animal law in Scotland more generally, which would concentrate particularly on animal welfare law but could also encompass other areas of law dealing with animals. Therefore, this paper considers some of the early history of animal welfare law in Scotland, particularly in the early to mid nineteenth century. The paper demonstrates, I hope, how the law in Scotland has developed by small incremental developments from the common law, or at least it was retrospectively described as such a development, which was then substantially altered by legislative intervention in the mid-nineteenth century. It is possible to trace the changing background to the rules and discern some normative movement from viewing animals as mere property to some form of recognition of the interests of the animals themselves. The explanations given for the creation of legislation to increase the protection accorded to animals qua animals varied from the ownership, divine duty, projections of humanity onto animals, before moving towards thinking about the interests of the animal themselves as some kind of freestanding interest that was worthy of protection.
A secondary dimension of the paper is the interesting way it illustrates how different approaches have been taken by jurisdictions of the British Isles, and it forms a nice case study of different approaches have been taken from the early-19th century all the way through to the post-devolution era. Furthermore, that historical development also shows how these developing interests might be described very loosely as fitting in with other ‘humane’ movements around this period which were based on ideas such as rolling back personal oppression, the infliction of pain, the improvement of social conditions, and occupies a period where the increasing permeation of state intervention and legislation in many areas of law can be observed, and animal protection law becomes embedded within the emerging legislative web of such regulation which emerges within an emerging modern bureaucratic state. In turn, the protection of animals’ welfare comes to be protected not only in specific ‘animal cruelty’ statutes, but can also be seen across other forms of legislation dealing with food production, transportation of livestock, and even mining legislation.
A further and related dimension which I think is important, but which can only be lightly touched upon here, within this context of the increasingly present state and legislative interventions in relation to the management and regulation of that state, is the emergence of non-state actors conducting public duties (not in general, but the specific animal societies inspectors etc.) who become, in effect, quasi-state functionaries. This includes the societies against cruelty to children and animals which emerge as organisations which the state entrusts with certain public powers, and those functions remain considerably later than many other quasi-public entities disappear or at least diminish