November 30, 2012

Our Mini-Theme: Developments in Cyberspace Law

Jonathan T. Rubens

The Cyberspace Law Committee (CLC) is gearing up for its annual stand-alone meeting: The CLC 2013 Institute on the Law of Cyberspace and Winter Working Meeting will take place January 25-26 at the W Los Angeles-Westwood Hotel. With this mini-theme, we offer three articles on changes in longstanding regulatory regimes governing business in cyberspace alongside analyses of newly-emerging cyberlaw topics, which we will explore further at the January conference as part of a broader cyberlaw agenda. First in our mini-theme, law professor Gregory Voss of the University of Toulouse in France provides a valuable update on the proposed new European Union General Data Protection Regulation, which seeks to create more uniformity in data protection laws across Europe. The new regulation would also expand the definition of "personal data" at issue in many of its provisions. It would create new data breach reporting requirements in member countries and address the growing concerns about data portability and the so-called "right to be forgotten." Professor Voss offers some insight into the process behind the potential implementation of this new regulation along with some useful summaries of the new requirements and suggestions for non-EU lawyers counseling businesses mindful of the evolving regulatory framework.

Second, John Pavlolotsky of San Francisco offers a timely introduction to a rapidly evolving area of online business where the applicability of existing privacy, data security, and other laws and regulations has barely begun to play out: "Big Data" analytics. Moving quickly from a slightly esoteric engineering concept to a widely-used Silicon Valley buzzword, the phrase "Big Data" has come to be understood as the problematic area of large data sets, where the velocity, veracity, and variety of the virtual (online) data is so enormous that conventional methods of analysis are impractical. John offers a summary explanation of the concept and how it has been addressed or discussed by courts and by the law, if at all, so far.

Finally, with a discussion of the still quite unsettled application of existing principles of law to a developing area of concern about the backbone of the Internet, cyberlawer Ernesto Rubi of Miami offers an analysis of the potential legal treatement of rights in IPv4 numbers, the globally unique identifiers that are linked to every device or home page (laptop, smart phone, desktop, website, tablet, etc.) that accesses the Internet. Rubi discusses potential ownership rights in of IPv4 numbers, despite the purported restrictions on transferability of IPv4 numbers imposed by the registries involved with IP assignment. Given the finite set of global IPv4 numbers for assignment, the continued massive growth in Internet-enabled devices and global demand for access, along with the slow evolution of the next systems of Internet identification assignment, this is an area that certainly will attract more attention soon.

Join us in Los Angeles in January for a high-powered two-day conference that will delve deeper into a host of cyberlaw topics such as these along with presentations on cybersecurity and the cloud, issues raised by new models of digital content distribution, the continuing problems with consumer online contracting, and the most significant cyberlaw cases of 2012. We will also roll up our sleeves and jump into interactive roundtables on a variety of cyberlaw topics, and will devote the second part of the conference to break-out sessions on many of the writing and presentation projects of the Committee's subcommittees and task forces. All these are open sessions and provide a terrific opportunity to those new to the Committee, the Section, or the ABA to get involved in some of the most significant and most current topics of the day involving the applicability of the rule of law to the ever-changing world of business and technology.

Jonathan T. Rubens