Law Foundation stumps up $2m for research into IT challenges

Unveils ILAPP project

Independent charitable trust, the New Zealand Law Foundation, has set up a $2 million research fund to prepare New Zealand for the challenges of the information age by developing law and policy around IT, data, information and cyber-security.

The foundation says the Information Law and Policy Project (ILAPP) will bring together teams of experts to examine challenges and opportunities in areas like global information, cyber-security, data exploitation and technology-driven social change. Research teams will have around three years to complete their projects.

It says the scope of the project has been developed in consultation with many interests including experts from the law schools, the Government’s 2015 cyber-security strategy, InternetNZ, the Innovation Partnership, the Data Futures Partnership, Google New Zealand, Spark, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The project will be supported by a 10-member independent specialist advisory review committee that will help assess and finalise aspects of research projects being supported.

The foundation says that University law schools are working closely with it on the project. “Law faculty deans will help develop cross-institutional research proposals and bring together the best available multi-disciplinary teams from New Zealand’s talent pool,” it said. “We expect the quality of the research to be much higher as a result.”

Law Foundation executive director, Lynda Hagen, said that, in addition to legal experts, potential collaborators included computer scientists, economists, sociologists, philosophers, IT and data specialists, business, cyber-security experts, government/public sector, crown research institutes, civil society and users.

“The Law Foundation supports independent legal thinking. We will work collaboratively with government and private interests, but the research outcomes must serve the wider public rather than any vested interest,” she said.

“We expect the projects to have practical outcomes, in particular on how New Zealand can gain commercially, and be protected, through technology developments. For example, how can New Zealand’s predominantly small businesses, lacking expertise and scale, unlock the economic value of their data?”

The foundation has identified seven broad themes of enquiry.

-The global nature of information: how New Zealanders manage it and trade in it.

-Cyber security and crime, and the capabilities needed to protect against these threats.

- Social change following technological change: how technology is affecting society and how the law can keep up.

- Ownership/exploitation of data: how citizens can control use of their data.

- Philosophical notions – looking at the impact of technology on the State and what that means for democracy and other constitutional issues.

- The ethics of inference – algorithmic decision making and its implications for society.

- The exclusionary effect of technology – catering for citizens and business lacking the ability to access and unlock the benefits of technology.

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