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First Edition eLaw Conference: Law and/versus Technology

The first eLaw Conference at Leiden University was a success, fostering timely discussions on the legal challenges and opportunities presented by digital technologies.

Unfolding at the end of June 2024, the first eLaw Conference saw the gathering of 140 participants from four continents. The two-day conference centred on the theme of ‘Law &/ vs Technology’ and provided diverse avenues for in-depth discussions on the most pressing questions in the field of law and digital technologies. The conference Chair was Dr Gianclaudio Malgieri, Associate Professor of Law at Leiden University. The programme committee included the whole eLaw Board and additional colleagues within and outside the department.

Following a rigorous selection, 40 out of 120 abstract submissions were organised into four tracks: AI Law and Governance, Privacy and Data Protection, Digital Vulnerability, and Digital Platforms Regulations. This structure allowed participants to tailor their experience and follow the nuances of topics of particular interest.

20 June

The conference featured a rich programme of institutional and academic experts, keynote addresses, panels, and paper sessions. The Hans Franken Lecture, named after one of eLaw’s founders and former dean of the Leiden Law School, was delivered by Professor Roger Brownsword (University College London). Professor Brownsword’s address delved into the intricate balance between leveraging the potential of digital technologies and upholding fundamental values and principles within governance frameworks, a key theme of the conference.

The conference's keynote panels featured topics such as AI governance, the AI Act, and data protection. Thursday’s keynote, named after the conference itself and moderated by Simone van der Hof (Leiden University), was informed by Roger Brownsword (University College London), Paul Nemitz (European Commission), Linett Taylor (Tilburg University), and Elettra Bietti (Northeastern University).

21 June

The second day of the conference featured two additional keynote panels. The first, a hybrid panel, included insightful contributions from Eduard Fosch Villaronga (Leiden University), Timo Jakobi (Technical University Nuremberg), Joris van Hoboken, (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Mireille Hildebrandt (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Marcello Ienca (Technical University of Munich). Francien Dechesne (Leiden University) moderated this panel and led a productive Q&A session with the audience on the impact of digital technologies on fundamental rights. The second keynote panel, moderated by Gianclaudio Malgieri (Leiden University), fostered a comprehensive discussion on the differences in AI governance between Europe and North America, with a specific focus on the AI Act. This panel benefited from the diverse interventions of Gloria Gonzalez Fuster (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Hielke Hijmans (Belgian Data Protection Authority), Eleni Kosta (Tilburg University), Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius (Radboud University), and Ignacio Cofone (McGill University).

The insightful discussions within the symposium’s panels underscored the need for interdisciplinary communication and for an increased focus not only on the developing interpretations of digital laws, but also on these frameworks’ intersection.

The conference’s success can only be credited to the dedication of Leiden Law School’s eLaw department members, who actively moderated the panels, provided feedback on the submitted papers, and engaged with participants. Selected contributions, papers, and proceedings will appear in a special Computer Law and Security Review.

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