Cyberspace Law: ‘Big Data’, Algorithmic Governance and Democracy

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 13:00to14:30

Professor of Business Law Peer Zumbansen welcomes Jonathan Price and Bernhard Maier for the first lecture in the Seminars in Business & Society series of 2021-2022 for a talk on ‘Big Data’, Algorithmic Governance and Democracy.


Never before has cyberspace been as relevant or as controversial as today. Never before have traditional structures undergone a larger or faster transformation that can be witnessed currently, whether under public or private international law or domestic law.

This session will address some of the challenges faced by private and public actors as a result of the exponential growth of ubiquitous cyberspace in the 20th century. It will discuss some recent developments in platform law and personality rights. It will deliver some critical thoughts on how the law has (or has not) adapted to the borderlessness of the Internet.

Finally, it will provide an introduction into the debate around whether national and international principles of competition adequately equipped to rein in “Big Tech”. This and other topics will be designed to give the audience a taste of the challenges faced by lawmakers and the subjects of the law in the modern digital age, challenges that are being turbocharged by the current pandemic.

About the speakers

Jonathan Price is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London and a leading libel and privacy law specialist. Bernhard Maier is a Counsel at Signature, a leading dispute resolution boutique based in London and Paris. Bernhard’s practice focuses on public international law, investment treaty arbitration and commercial disputes. Both Jonathan and Bernhard co-teach an LLM class in cyber law at King's College (London) with Penelope Nevill of 20 Essex Chambers.

About the McGill Seminars in Business & Society series

The McGill Seminars in Business & Society Seminars address a broad audience and seek to facilitate a new conversation between law and management, sociology and environmental studies, history and political science. Above all, the seminars are concerned with building bridges between the academy and practice.

In its first, inaugural term 2021-2022, the McGill Business & Society Seminars shall provide a forum to reflect on the challenges to business and society against the background of the – still ongoing – pandemic. The crisis has put global connectivity and interdependence into sharp relief, while it exposed the still too rare examples of effective transnational cooperation. Given the intensity of public debates around what might come “after COVID”, the present moment presents an opportunity to explore possible avenues of learning from the crisis in order to move forward in a different manner. Where the pandemic has provided a lens on the institutional changes that economic globalization has brought over the past 30 years, it also prompts us to engage in new conversations about HOW the pandemic can serve as a transformative experience.

Just as the area of “business law” has never been limited to the narrow, doctrinal confines of corporate and commercial law, a conversation about business and society must engage the deeper connections between companies, labour markets, public policy and tax law, on the one hand, and connect to the vibrant public debate around the relationship between and, even more specifically, the role and place of “business” in “society.”

Today’s conversations about the role and responsibilities of business enterprises reflect a growing public interest in questions of sustainability, equality and diversity, climate change and overall a more future-oriented corporate governance reflective of the corporation’s “purpose”. As these debates translate into legal discourse, the emerging and pressing issues concern corporate board composition, board diversity and executive pay, stakeholder representation and stakeholder governance, supply chain governance, workers’ rights and ‘anti-slavery law’, board diversity and executive pay, “corporate stewardship”, “environmental, social and governance” (ESG), as well as the impact of new technologies, including artificial intelligence on business law.

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