Digitalisation disrupts legislation

Digitalisation and technological developments are changing society and the ways people work. Technological disruptions are present in nearly every area of life and, consequently, legislation and legal studies. Technology is also disrupting the legal profession.

“Digitalisation itself is nothing new, but it is acquiring completely new dimensions – we’re just at the beginning of this development,” says Kimmo Nuotio, dean of the Faculty of Law.

How should legislation be amended to support the emergence of a new creative, dynamic economy? How can the privacy of individuals be protected, and how can they manage their own information?

And how will conflicts be solved? Will we continue to need courts of law, or will disagreements be solved with digital technology developed for this purpose? How can copyright be protected online in a world where objects can be 3D printed? Is our national or personal security in jeopardy as public services are increasingly handled through digital systems?

These and many other issues will arise as society’s structures are rearranged through technology.

A dynamic economy requires new legislation

New business models challenge the large, old, rigid systems. The economy is becoming more dynamic, and a prominent example of this is the variety of business ideas based on sharing.

You can order a taxi with an app, but the driver may not be a taxi driver in the traditional sense. Private individuals can offer their apartments as accommodation for tourists or their cars for rent when they do not need them themselves. But is this legal? In Finland, taxi drivers must have a licence, and Uber drivers have already faced legal action for practising without a licence.

Liikennekaari, a government key project, aims to reduce the regulation of transportation, increase digitalisation and support entrepreneurship.

 “In fact, changes in regulation are pivotal in defining how technological tools can be applied and new business models developed,” Kimmo Nuotio points out.

What will happen to our personal information in cyberspace?

The protection of privacy is a concern in the jumble of digital systems. As personal data are recorded into different registers and client systems, we must ensure everyone’s right to privacy to decide how their information is used. At the same time, we must consider the value of the extensive use and trade of information, since the use of personal information across systems would make public services more effective.

 “The European Union is trying to balance between economic growth and privacy,” Kimmo Nuotio says.

Digital property does not disappear when its owner dies. As the amount of data in a variety of digital systems increases, it is also important to consider what will happen when the data owners pass away. The material may be spread out over several servers and databases. Family and friends will want to know what rights they have to the digital property and what the related issues are.

Changing the legal profession

Digitalisation will also change the way lawyers work – even the job description may change. Legal professionals must consider new details. The work will also become significantly more international. Lawyers must understand technology and see which way the development trends are going.

The work of lawyers may even become automatised. Perhaps contracts will no longer be drafted by lawyers, but by automated contract law tools which will be able to calculate a contract template based on information input into the system.

Research project on digitalization at the Faculty of Law:

Contracting for Online Content Distribution and Production: Competition and Contract Law Perspectives

New Technologies in Content Production and Distrbution – The Future of Copyright and Competition Law

IPR in New Value Creation

Information Security of Location Estimation and Navigation Applications (INSURE)

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Digitalizing Patent Law: Challenges from 3D Printing Technologies

Enforcing Patents in Europe: Challenges from 3D Printing Technology

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