Studying Law at RomaTre

Academic Year 2018-2019

Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2019)


Digital Technologies and the Law

Prof. Giorgio Resta


II Semester, 2018-2019

4 CFUs - ECTS, Monday-Tuesday, 14;15-16:00, room 11 (Tommaseo Building)

Office hours: Tuesday 12:30 – 13:30, Dipartimento di giurisprudenza, Room 239 2nd Floor

Course description:  
This course will provide an overview of the major issues related to the impact of digitalisation, interconnected networks, and artificial intelligence on contemporary law. Namely, it will focus on data-driven innovation and will explore the complex relationship between social and technological change and the evolution of the law. Controversial issues such as the regulation of digital platforms, decision making by algorithms, ownership of data, liquid surveillance, Internet of things, privacy in the social networks, smart contracting, liability in the cyberspace, will be analysed and discusses from a comparative law perspective. The main aim of the course is to provide an up-to-date overview about the major legal issues raised by the advent of digital technologies.

Course Learning Objectives
At the end of this course, students should:
  • Develop a better understanding of the impact of digitalisation on contemporary law
  • Develop the skills required for a lawyer working in an increasingly borderless and data-driven society
  • Foster analytic and reasoning abilities by confronting the black-letter rules with a rapidly changing societal context
  • Performing legal research and writing in English in the area of the law of digital technologies

Course Learning Activities

To achieve the above objectives, students will carefully read assigned materials, engage in class discussions, attend and report on guest lectures, make oral presentations and write a final research paper.

Assessment tools
Active participation to class activities (50%); research paper (50%).

Attendance policy
Class attendance is mandatory.

Course textbook(s)
Materials will be provided in class or through the e-learning platform.

Supporting / Recommended course reading material
See above

Course Schedule

Class    Topic and/or Activity Suggested Readings
1. March 4             Introduction

Review of syllabus, state of the art, organisation of the course
No Reading
  Sect. 1 Data and borders
2. March 5 Towards extraterritorial jurisdiction? D.J. Svantesson, Extraterritoriality in the context of data privacy regulation, 7 Masaryk U. J. L. Tech. 87 (2012)

fArt. 3 GDPR

ECJ, Google Spain case (C-131/12)
3. March 11 The challenges of transnational mass surveillance F. Bignami - G. Resta,  Transatlantic Privacy Regulation : Conflict and Cooperation, 78 Law & Cont. Prob’s 231 (2015)

ECJ, Schrems case (C-362/14)
4. March 12
Regulating data-flow in the digital sphere
S. Livingston – G. Greenleaf, China’s New Data Export Rules: Adequacy with Chinese Characteristics? 147 Privacy Laws & Business International Report 9 (2017)

Arts. 44-49 GDPR
  Sect. 2 Data ownership
5. March 18 Who owns data in a world of big data? J. Drexl, Designing Competitive Markets for Industrial Data. Between Propertisation and Access, 8 JIPITEC 257 (2017)
6. March 19 Personal data : property or privacy? Proposal for a Directive on the Supply of Digital Content COM/2015/0634: art. 3
GDPR : art. 7

A. Metzger, Data as Counter-Performance, 8 JIPITEC 2 (2017)
7. March 25 The idea of digital commons T. Dreier, Germany: Creating New Property Rights on the Basis of General Legal Concepts: Without Limits?, 2 JIPITEC 152 (2011)

ECJ, Renckhoff case (C‑161/17)
  Sect. 3 Algorithms
8. March 26 Decision making by algorithms: the black box society
Courtland, The Bias Detectives, in Nature (2018)

J. Angwin – J. Larson – S. Mattu – L. Kirchner, Machine Bias, ProPublica, 23-5-2016

State v. Loomis, 881 N.W.2d 749 (2016)
Houston Fed. Teachers v. Houston Independent, 251 F.Supp.3d 1168 (2017)
9. April 1 Regulating algorithms and Artificial Intelligence: the challenges for the law L. Edwards – M. Veale, Enslaving the Algorithm: From a ‘Right to an Explanation’ to a ‘Right to Better Decisions’?, IEEE Security & Privacy (2018) 16(3), 46–54

Art. 22 GDPR
10. April 2 Algorithmic Surveillance Y.J. Chen et al., ‘Rule of Trust’: The Power and Perils of China’s Social Credit Megaproject, 32 Columbia J. Asian L. 1 (2018)

M.Hu, Algorithmic Jim Crow, 86 Fordham L. Rev. 633 (2017) (excerpts)
  Sect. 4  Digital Technologies and Fundamental Rights
11. April 8 Anonimity and digital communications S. Gunther, Facebook’s Real Name Policy : A Violation of the Corporate’s Responsibility to Respect Human Rights,

ECHR Delfi v. Estonia

12. April 9 Digital Inheritance : data and digital content after death Yahoo v Ajemian 84 N.E.3d 766 (Mass. 2017)

G. Resta, Personal Data and Digital Assets after Death, EuCML 201 (2018)
13. April 15 Personalized medicine, big data and biobanks Washington University v. Catalona, 437 F. Supp. 2d 985 (2006)

C. Piciocchi et al., Legal issues in governing genetic biobanks, J. Community Genet. (2018) 9:177–190
14. April 16 3d Printing European Commission, The disruptive nature of 3d Printing
European Parliament, Report on three-dimensional printing, a challenge in the fields of intellectual property rights and civil liability
  Sect. 5  Digital Platforms
15. April 29 The law and economics of digital platforms O. Lobel, The Law of the Platform, 101 Minn. L. Rev. 87, 166 (2016)

ECJ, Uber case (C-434/15)
16. April 30 The Impact of the digital revolution on the law : conclusion  N.K. Katyal, Disruptive Technologies and the Law, 102 Geo. L.J. 1685 (2014)

C. Twigg Flesner, Disruptive Technology – Disrupted Law? How the  Digital Revolution Affects (Contract) Law, in A. De Franceschi (ed.), European Contract Law and the Digital Single Market.

The issue of transborder data flow.
Data from the space?
ECJ Schrems decision
Anonimity in the era of big data ECHR Delfi v. Estonia
Algorithms, personalized medicine and health data Washington University v. Catalona, 437 F. Supp. 2d 985 (2006)

C. Piciocchi et al.,



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