Law, Technology and Innovation research network | Law

Law, Technology and Innovation research network

Law, Technology and Innovation research network

UNSW has recently formed a new research network exploring issues in law, technology and innovation, led by Lyria Bennett Moses. This covers a wide range of issues; the new research network aims to enable discussion and collaboration on topics including:

A: How technological change disrupts legal rules and legal categories

This often focuses around specific technologies such as data analytics and Big Data (Lyria Bennett MosesAlana MaurushatJanet ChanFleur Johns), synthetic biology (Marc de Leeuw), eObjects and the Internet of Things (Kayleen Manwaring) and water recycling and unconventional gas (Janice Gray) or specific areas of law such as fraud (Alex Steel) or intellectual property (Alexandra George). In some cases, network members are working at a particular intersection of both as in the case of cybercrime (Alana Maurushat), keyword advertising and trade mark law (Michael Handler), effects of platforms on the scope of competition law (Rob Nichollsand other regulatory dimensions of the sharing economy (Bronwen Morgan), civil and criminal online harms and the impact on children and young people (Matthew Keeley of the National Children's and Youth Law Centre) and defamation, human rights and information technology (Daniel Joyce) and digital humanitarianism (Fleur Johns).

 B: How technological change interacts with culture, organisations and commercial practice in ways that impact on how law does and ought to operate

This work goes beyond doctrinal research to explore a wide variety of questions. Examples include the search for a deeper understanding of the connection between politics, history and the philosophy of technology (Kathy Bowrey)the contradictory ways in which global-scale technology platforms both support and undermine ecologically sustainable economies (Bronwen Morgan), the ways in which technological framing and culture enables and contsrains, leading to a gap between purpose and outcomes (Janet Chan) and how technological practices make trouble for conventional touchstones of legal and political thought, such as the consenting subject, the explicable decision, territorial jurisdiction, and the expectation that law’s authority depends upon its rootedness in and answerability to a knowable human population (Fleur Johns). It also includes practical questions of increasing importance in the commercial world, such as the impact of the move in banking from "know your customer" to "know your data" (Ross Buckley), the impact of blockchain on exchanges (Ross Buckley) and the impact of platform and network effects in multi-sided markets on competition law (Rob Nicholls) and for the lives of individuals, as in the case of unfair data practices (Alana Maurushat) and programs that aim to prevent or respond to online harms or facilitate the sharing of personal information in child welfare / domestic violence contexts (Matthew Keeley of the National Children's and Youth Law Centre).

C: How new technologies, particularly new information technologies, disrupt law itself – changing how law is created, understood, analysed, practised and enforced

There are a variety of issues faced by the legal profession (as well as in law enforcement and criminal justice) as information technologies enable greater automation. A large number of researchers (Lyria Bennett MosesAlana MaurushatJanet ChanGraham GreenleafPhilip ChungBassina FarbenblumMatthew KeeleyJustine RogersMichael LeggBronwen Morgan) are interested in various aspects of this including the utility of various tools for access to justice, dispute resolution, electronic discovery and ethical/legal decision-making, the impact and prevalence of these tools, limitations on these tools, as well as issues around transparency and accountability). 

In addition, UNSW Law is one of the homes of Austlii, an open access legal information system. In particular Austlii is interested in capturing data, leveraging user generated content, improving search, leveraging interconnections in data and creating networks, expert systems, data visualisation, and data mining to understand historic shifts in the use of legal information. Note in particular the work of Graham Greenleaf and Philip Chung.

Other research under this head includes John Fitzgerald's PhD project using mathematical techniques to better understand statutes and Alexandra George's work on disruption in intellectual property practice.

D: How innovation has been promoted through intellectual property rights in the past and present, and how this ought to occur in the future

A variety of work is being done in this space including by Kathy Bowrey (the tension between traditional intellectual property categories and intellectual property seen as a way to exercise control over data and information), Marc de Leeuw (synthetic biology and patents; the role fo the commons and open science), Alexandra George (design of intellectual property laws) and Michael Handler (innovation and copyright exceptions; innovation and trade mark law). Further, Graham Greenleaf and Philip Chung are working on free access to legal information (through Austlii) and the challenges presented by Crown and commercial copyright.

E: Issues in national security and law enforcement (Big Data, cybersecurity, cyberwarfare) and in global governance and global conflict

The Data to Decisions CRC team (Lyria Bennett MosesAlana MaurushatJanet Chan) are working on the use of data and data analytics for law enforcement and national security purposes). In addition, Alana Maurushat works on cybersecurity, ethical hacking, testing defence facilities, cybersecurity and international law, Sarah Williams works on cyberwarfare, biotechnology and international humanitarian law and Fleur Johns works on conflict and distribution in global data politics and on changing styles and technologies of global governance.

F: How specific technological skills and innovative thinking can be embedded into the law curriculum, including the use of expert systems and data exploration as a teaching tool and encouraging design thinking

UNSW Law is introducing a new course in S2 2017, teaching law students how to design and build legal information systems for not for profit organisations. A large number of academics are interested in the use of technology for facilitating access to justice including Lyria Bennett MosesJanet ChanGraham GreenleafPhilip ChungRob NichollsMatthew Keeley and Justine Rogers. In addition, Michael Handler is working on technology in assessment and Alexandra George has built a "game" for teaching intellectual property and is interested in other e-tools for IP education. 


The Law, Technology and Innovation Network comprises members who are broadly interested in the above topics and those who are working on specific projects of interest to the group. The specific interests of both members and associates are set out above. While the network remains new, we are already exploring a range of activities including events, workshops, PhD student seminars, grants, strategic hiring of staff and PhDs, events and activities for undergraduate and juris doctor students, and improving information sharing among the network.

Members :


Specific projects :