The CRID, an interdisciplinary research centre focusing on ICT regulation

  • Poullet Y
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Abstract

The CRID, an interdisciplinary research centre focusing on ICT regulation: Any figures: Created in 1979 (XXXth Birthday), the Research Centre in Informatics and Law (see www.crid.be ) of the Namur University (FUNDP) has as its mission the encouragement of academic reflection on the legal and economic aspects of new information and communications technologies. Since then, the CRID has grown to accommodate a current complement of about thirty researchers (lawyers, economist and computers scientists) and six academics. Like the internet it is so concerned with, the CRID has woven a web of connections around the world by integrating with numerous university consortia, both at the European (ECLIP, EULISP) and international levels (notably: CLIP: Fordham University, CRDP, Montréal). In reply to questions raised by its public partners, and in respect of the “Consultancy Charter”, the CRID has been led to inquire deeply into issues, which are fundamental for the future of our society and its citizens. It has actively participated in reflections whose fruits have been written into Belgian law, as well as inspiring recommendations notably to the European Union, the Council of Europe and the UNESCO. The CRID is also supporting different teaching activities, mainly a postgraduate programme about ICT management and legal aspects and different on-going teaching activities namely the INFOSAFE on ICT security aspects and the JURITIC and CLEC. Ten doctoral thesis are in preparation. At a time when the emergence of the internet and of e-commerce are profoundly transforming our way of life and the ICT applications are characterized by their opacity, ubiquity and the globalization of their economy and impacts, the CRID, together with other research centres like CITA (Interfacultary Centre for Technology Assessment, this centre has been created by the CRID 20 years ago) and the Computer Science Faculty, aims to provide multi-disciplinary answers to the numerous questions raised by such turbulent change. Four sections have been set up, even if more and more the ICT applications need to deepen the interdependency between all the legal disciplines: the first one is dedicated in the e-commerce contractual aspects including the problems of liability, International private Law; the second one is dealing with human liberties issues in our Information societies; the third one is analysing the way by which IPR are, from one side, putting into danger but, from the other side, protected in a better way by a sort of alliance between technology and the Law. The last one is devoted to the e-communications infrastructure and services regulations taking fully into account the convergence of all the networks. Some researches in particular: Three present axis of research might be pinpointed. 1. The first one is definitively trans-disciplinary. It studies the relationships between the legal and the technological normativities. In the advanced Information Society, (de)regulation of human actions and interactions, both on- and off-line, requires and attests to increasingly unavoidable and complex interactions between law and technology. Whereas these interactions may take a variety of forms going from mutual reinforcements and transformations to harsh competition, our research is an attempt to map the respective specificities of legal and technological normativities in order to enlighten current debates about the stable or changing, fundamental or residual roles and functions of Laws and legal systems. Against hasty delegations (from Law to technology) motivated by a current prevailing of concerns for effectiveness and efficiency over the quest for legitimacy and fairness, the paper attempts to pave the way towards a democratically sustainable articulation of legal and technological normativities. 2. The second one, apart from the follow-up of certain technologies called surveillance technologies like RFID, automatic analysis of the facial expressions or surfing habits’ analysis and of the use of methods used by the companies or by the State authorities to make “profiles” apart from these huge collection of data, aims firstly to scrutinize concepts like “virtual” identity, privacy and others related to the traditional data protection provisions, secondly to describe the impact of this so-called “observation society” on the individuals; the growing risks of social sorting and discrimination, the trend to a certain reductionism and finally the concern of an anticipatory reductionism which might have negative impact on our democratic society 3. Finally I would like to underline the comprehensive study the CRID has launched on open software and documents, in the context of various initiatives like “Creative commons”, EU drafting on GPL licence and UNESCO discussions in relationship with the concept of “Public domain”.

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Authors

  • Yves Poullet

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