UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL Faculty of Laws host groundbreaking two-day course on privacy

30 January 2017

Privacy Laws

UCL Faculty of Laws and UCL’s Institute of Brand and Innovation Law organised a two-day course on privacy called Privacy Online and Offline: The Citizen, the Personal and the Public Interest’ on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 January 2017.

This event was an opportunity for lawyers and policymakers to consider the state of the current privacy landscape after the Investigatory Powers Bill was passed by Parliament. The Investigatory Powers Bill has been condemned by judges, QCs, law professors, senior lawyers and computer scientists and supported by a 100,000 signature petition of objection. In December its legality was called into question by the CJEU.

The speakers, who include internationally respected lawyers from both the UK and the USA, former government employees, the current director of Europol and experts in international data protection, security, computer science and cryptography, considered a vast array of topics such as freedom of expression, surveillance, national security and the law and ethics of leaking.

Keynote speaker, Rob Wainwright, Director of Europe’s Law Enforcement Agency, EUROPOL, began by outlining Europol’s remit and trans-national work. After a chilling tour of the dark side of the Internet he discussed the tension between privacy and law enforcement. Rob Wainwright was optimistic at society’s ability to develop a set of legal instruments that deliver privacy in a balanced and proportional way. He welcomed the improved openness in the law enforcement community post-Snowden and argued that there is a special responsibility in respect of data held about private citizens to improve trust between citizen and state.

Rob Wainwright saluted the powers and independence, for example, of the Europol’s data protection body that has access to 100% of Europol’s data. Revealing he had been described as “a despotic agent of digital repression” he firmly advocated online privacy as a fundamental right, and did not support the wholesale banning of encryption or any requirement for back door vulnerabilities. While welcoming improved co-operation between tech companies and his agency he was of the view that there was room for improvement beyond the limited circumstances where the interests of law enforcement and the technology companies were aligned.

Read more about the event.