The IFCLA conference last Thursday and Friday was provocative in the sense that it provoked lots of debate.

It was good to see a number of eminent Techlaw presenters acknowledging that there are a range of issues where they dont yet know the answers. The topics included robolaw, FinTech regulation, the use of blockchain technology, and the use of IT in healthcare. I emphasise that the panelists don’t yet know the yet know the answers. These are all areas where the technology, the regulatory environment and the law in general are stuggling to grapple with the pace of change.

Prof Mischa Dohler from King’s College in London provided an excellent keynote speech on the Friday morning that encapsulated many of the issues. It was a little frightening – but well worth Techlawyers taking the time to think about the issues raised by Mischa. He has already provided a resume of his presentation on the SCL website – see http://www.scl.org/site.aspx?i=ed47924.

Take a look and ponder over some of the tough issues that as lawyers we need to grapple with. Here are just three:

Data Privacy: The burning question of this century is clearly on how to achieve privacy without jeopardising utility; remember that, in a world with perfect privacy, Google search would be largely meaningless. And the really hard questions around privacy will emerge with the quickly growing IoT: these devices do not have a ‘user’ interface (screen, keyboard); how do we properly interact with them to control them or switch them off?

and:

Regulatory Environment: Technology moves relatively fast – mainly because the underlying principles around innovation have been, well, innovated. In that spirit, we may want to explore how to innovate regulatory bodies so that they can stay head-to-head if not ahead of the technology game rather than catching up.

and:

Tech Procurement: Quick tech advances are meaningless if they struggle to be deployed. Smart technologies are rarely the cheapest and thus struggle with large procurement opportunities. We urgently need a stronger regulatory framework supporting smart tech over tech which just about meets the requirements