Department of Computer Science and Technology

Course pages 2018–19

Technology and law

Principal lecturer: Dr Jatinder Singh
Additional lecturers: Dr Jennifer Cobbe, Dr Heleen Janssen, Dr Ian Wassell
Taken by: MPhil ACS, Part III
Code: R260
Hours: 16 (8 2-hour sessions)
Class limit: 12 students
Prerequisites: R209 Computer security: principles and foundations


Digital technology is increasingly the subject of social commentary, political scrutiny and regulatory attention. This module aims to develop a solid understanding of applicable legal concepts and their practical implications for system design and development. Areas explored include the legal foundations in data protection (GDPR), privacy, liability, human rights; issues of tech-surveillance and algorithmic accountability; and the related implications for technologies including cloud, machine learning and the IoT.

This course provides students with a practical background in law and regulatory theory, in order to develop awareness and consideration of how technologies can be designed and engineered to be more accountable and compliant with law.

Syllabus and coursework

There will be eight two-hour seminars in line with the following topics:

  1. Introduction and foundations of tech-law
  2. Data protection: regulations and obligations
  3. Privacy and tech-surveillance
  4. Audit and compliance
  5. Cloud and service providers
  6. Algorithmic accountability (inc. automated decision making/machine learning)
  7. Internet of Things
  8. Emerging questions and challenges

Seminars will predominantly be discussion-oriented, though the foundational material will be presented in more a tutorial-like format. Students must complete all assigned reading prior to class, and will be expected to participate in discussion. Students will be allocated one or more papers to present to the group. Coursework will also include short comment pieces and a research essay on relevant topics.


On completion of this module, students should:

  • Understand the key legal influences on technical design;
  • Appreciate the practical considerations and challenges of engineering more compliant and accountable systems;
  • Be familiar with the interdisciplinary tech-legal research landscapes;
  • Appreciate the ongoing legal, policy and societal debates concerning emerging technology.


  • Presentation(s) of reading material (30%);
  • Short comment pieces on weekly topics (max 500 words) (20%);
  • A research essay (max 2500 words) + short presentation (40%);
  • Participation (10%).

Recommended Reading

Specific reading materials will be set according to each week’s topic.

For some general background and context, suggested reading includes:

Code, and other laws of cyberspace by Lawrence Lessig

Handbook on European Data Protection Law 2018

Algorithmic Regulation: A Critical Interrogation,Regulation & Governance by Karen Yeung

Liars & Outliers by Bruce Schneier

Information Technology Law by Andrew Murray