Law, Innovation and Technology
Law in scientific and technological areas has been studied at the School of Law for many years. Building on a legacy of research in fields such as environmental law and computers and the law, the School’s current work on ‘law, innovation and technology’ is wide-ranging, encompassing intellectual property and the creative industries, environmental issues, medical law and ethics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and automation (including implications for legal practice), media, advertising, and more.
Our research addresses many controversial and topical issues within these broader themes, including assisted reproductive technologies, genetically modified organisms, the ‘gig’ economy, human tissue, privacy and data protection, clinical trials, cause-related marketing, social media, smart cities, and automated decision-making. We often study these challenges in European and transnational contexts, including Internet governance, EU regulation of clinical trials, global pandemics, and UN work on business and human rights and health and human rights, and investigate themes such as corporate social responsibility, ethics, human rights, social and economy policy, ‘behavioural’ approaches in law and regulation, and self- and co-regulatory structures.
A number of us are involved in the Health and Human Rights Unit which is home to various projects, funded by the ESRC, the European Union (Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships), Australian Research Council, and the Leverhulme Trust). The School plays an active part in Future Screens NI, a creative industries research and development partnership funded by the AHRC. The partnership, which is led by Ulster University and QUB, with significant involvement from Northern Ireland Screen, broadcasters BBC and RTÉ, and others from across the creative sector, addresses the challenges of productivity and growth for industries such as games, animation, and immersive technologies.
Research on law, innovation and technology is often supported by collaborations with other Schools and Faculties at QUB. The School is heavily involved in the Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Network on Cyber Security (LINCS), which supports PhD researchers working at the intersection of law and computer science; recent graduates of this programme have gone on to postdoctoral posts, often in interdisciplinary centres or projects, at other institutions including Cambridge and Birmingham, while current students participated in the international Cyber Strategy Challenge competition in London.
Much of our work in this area has significant policy implications. Our research has been discussed at parliamentary committees (e.g. on Northern Irish agriculture), and cited in court (e.g. on copyright, in the US Supreme Court and High Court of Australia). It has been presented not just in books and articles, but in an award-winning video series, public events, policy workshops, and reports. Ongoing attention is currently being paid to the potential impact of Brexit in our fields of interest, including healthcare, media regulation, business law, and the environment.