IDP2014 (XII). Internet and politics (II)

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Joan Balcells Padullés. Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Are Social Media changing party politics? Brokers among the members of the Catalan Parliament Twitter Network.
Marc Esteve i del Valle, PhD student on the Knowledge and Information Society Programme at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3); Rosa Borge Bravo; Associate Professor of Political Science at the UOC and researcher at the IN3

When looking at the political usage of Twitter in political parties, it is noticeable that it’s not the leaders but other members of the party the most active on Twitter. Are we before the appearance of ‘brokers’ that bridge different political clusters?

H1: Given the high density of the Catalan parliamentarians’ Twitter network, its high reciprocity, its clustering structure and the particular working milieu that it reflects, we expect the appearance of structural holes and therefore brokers.

H2: The Catalan parliamentarians who are young, highly educated, highly active on the Internet and parliamentarian works and belong to the ruling party, are more likely to be the bridges of the Catalan parliamentarians’ twitter network.

The dependent variable was the degree of centrality in the network, and as independent variables there were many: socio-economic, political, about your personal network, etc.

Results showed that the Parliament is a not very dense network, but also that it is a close one. It’s a closed and affiliated universe. 26 MP where considered as being brokers. They are not leaders of their respective parties and, indeed, they often neither belong to the mainstream ideology of the party.

We can cluster all the MPs in 4 communities, whose composition changes along time (January to March, 2014).

H1 is corroborated. But H2 is not. For being followed is important to have a blog, to speak a lot at the plenary and to hold a MP position, but there is no relationship with socio-demographic characteristics, no official role at the Parliament, no interventions to the commissions, no tweet intensity, no incumbency, no Internet use.

La desrepresentación política. Potencialidad de Internet en el proceso legislativo.
Francisco Jurado Gilabert, Jurista e Investigador en el Laboratorio de Ideas y Prácticas Políticas de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Doctorando en Filosofía del Derecho y Política en el IGOP, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.

We have a context where even the voters think that the Congress or the Senate represents the people… despite the fact that the Law says that it is so. On the other hand, there are other institutions of “direct” participation, which are not actually such, as they require some approvals or backing from the representative institutions.

Political representation is forced: one cannot chose not to be represented by the Parliament (e.g. as one can choose a lawyer to represent them in a trial). Elections are not about being represented or not, but only about somewhat influencing who is going to represent the whole citizenry. Why is it so? Why is the citizenry forced to be represented? There do not seem to be solid reasons to be politically supervised and represented. The only reason being the incapability of gathering everyone together, at the same time and at the same place for decision-making.

And it gets worse: the laws that frame representation are increasingly used as barriers against the entrance of competitors. It is difficult to create a new party or to create a new political platform. Pitkin’s dimensions of representation (1967) are systematically violed: there is no authorization or empowerment, no accountability, no suitability, no symbolic dimension (or just a little bit), no substantive representation of interests.

We need an act of de-representation, of demanding representation back. Maybe not the whole time, but on demand, when it is needed.

And there are many ICT tools that come very handy for that purpose.

La identidad digital en procesos de democracia electrónica. La desastrosa experiencia de la firma electrónica basada en certificados, en
Javier Peña, Presidente de; Ignacio Alamillo Domingo, Investigador del GRISC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. [MySignature] is a non-profit organization to collect signatures to promote certain initiatives. The difference with other petitioning sites is that at MiFirma signatures are electronic and thus legally binding. For instance, formally and officially signing political initiatives.

Setting up the platform is easily in technological terms than in legal terms. One needs and administrative authorisation, the platform has to accomplish some (non-justified) requirements and restrictions on the time of e-signature to be used, etc.


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IDP2014 (XI). e-commerce and consumer protection

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Miquel Peguera. Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Electronic contracts with customers. Transposition to the Spanish regulation of the Directive 2011/83/UE of the European Parliament and Council
María Dolores Palacios González. Profesora Titular de Derecho Civil de la Universidad de Oviedo.

The modification of the Spanish RDL 1/2007 de 16 de noviembre, by the new Law 3/2014 de 27 de marzo with the aim to transpose the Directive 2011/83/UE on electronic contracts with customers has changed many of the conditions in the procedures of a contract such as the right to inform the customer, their right to cancel the contract, and the duties of the seller to deliver.

Though the aim of the Directive is the harmonization of the digital market, it does not seem that there will be an increase in contracting through the Internet, neither at the national nor at the international levels. We believe that this still depends more on sociological or psychological factors rather than on the regulatory framework.

Competitiveness, privacy and customer protection as pillars of the European common digital market.
Ramon Miralles, Coordinador de Auditoria y Seguridad de la Información. Autoridad Catalana de Protección de Datos.

If Europe needed a unique market, it was time to act and to have a roadmap. That was the idea behind the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Privacy and, especially, trust in the system were top priorities.

One of the problems of Europe is that it reacts very slowly.

It seems that the new trends in e-commerce will be determined by privacy and trust. Data protection, consumer protection and competition could be the core policies in e-commerce in Europe.

News in the right to information of the customer in electronic contracts
María Arias Pou. Directora de ARIAS POU Abogados TIC. Coordinadora de la Comisión de Menores de APEP. Profesora de Derecho de las Nuevas Tecnologías de la Universidad Europea de Madrid.

The new Directive on the rights of the customers implies some changes in the right to information of the customer in electronic contracts. Changes that, at their time, change again along the whole process of transposition to the Spanish regulatory framework.

The problem is that the regulation that applies is disperse, with three scenarios: a contract with a customer, at a distance, online. This mess actually challenges the principle of ‘minimum information’, which becomes worse when it has to be accessed through mobile devices during the process of informing the customer.

Breach of information duties in the B2C e-commerce. A comparative study of English and Spanish law
Zofia Bednarz. PhD candidate, Law Faculty, University of Málaga, Spain.

Electronic commerce plays nowadays a crucially important role in both professional and private activity of European consumers and businesses. The precontractual information duties are one of the factors that distinguish online contract formation between businesses and consumers from other ways of selling goods and services. The rules that apply to the e-commerce in the scope of the European internal market originate in two different legal systems, that is in the European law and in the national law. The aim of this study is to analyse and compare remedies available to consumers in the case of breach of information duties by the trader. The traditional contract law of Spain and England offers various remedies for not providing the other party with the due information. The interest in comparing those legal systems lies in the possible high number of cross-boarder transactions and the different nature of common and continental law. Even though the European legislation imposes numerous information duties, usually the remedies available for breach of those duties are left to the Member States’ internal law, and therefore the analysis of the remedies available in the internal national law results necessary. The remedies that will be analysed and compared in this study are, under English law, misrepresentation, fraudulent, negligent or innocent, mistake, breach of statutory duty and breach of contract, and in what refers to Spanish law, remedies for vices of consent, for culpa in contrahendo, and for breach of contract.

Internet of things and protection of the customer oriented to machine-to-machine processes
Jose Manuel Pérez Marzabal. Abogado. Consultor UOC.

How do we protect customers in the so-called Internet of Things? Is our regulatory framework prepared for the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things will challenge matters of privacy, or (technological and personal) security. An imbalance in how we solve these challenges may incur in power imbalances. There is a growing risk of firms can take advantage of some procedures to abuse the customer.

The Internet of Things presents three main scenarios of added value: sensors, apps and cloud computing services. Depending on where business happens, regulation will necessarily have to adopt.

We need codes of behaviour and governance for application platforms.


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IDP2014 (X). Julián Valero: From digitalization to technological innovation: A juridical assessment of the modernization process of Public Administrations in the last decade

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Agustí Cerrillo, Professor, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Julián Valero. Professor of Administrative Law at the University of Murcia (Spain).
From digitalization to technological innovation: A juridical assessment of the modernization process of Public Administrations in the last decade

From digitization to technological innovation. The good thing about ICTs is especially the innovation they can bring with them into governments.

Is open government, open data, transparency a hype? Or is it a true believe in how things can be made different (and better)? It seems that the paradigm of accessing a document to be able to begin a procedure is over, that the government is already beyond that stage.

But many times it is not so: the government still creates laws (like the Spanish Law of Transparency) for the past, where the paradigm still is the standard procedure but digitized. With no improvement. We regulate access to documents, when citizens ask for access to data.

The theory is that we’re heading towards a smart government that provides services on demand. But it is a real practice only in very few cases.

The intensive use of technology has implied the appearance of new intermediaries between the administration and the citizen: technological intermediaries. And this appearance of new intermediaries often have an impact with legal issues. E.g. if I cannot access public information due to technological questions, who is liable for not respecting my right to information?

To be able to provide a 24×7 service, the administration now “lives in the cloud”… with all the strings attached to this decision: where are the citizen data, whose are those data, how to enforce the law or the service, etc.

And these problems get even worse when we speak about smart cities and big data.

We need technical norms as a guarantee of the juridical norms. We need technical knowledge to be able to design and enforce the best laws.

If we believe that ICTs can improve efficiency, we need to automate some procedures. Get rid of the human that is only clicking ‘next’ ‘next’ ‘next’ and adding no value. This is a major challenge for public law, but one that needs being addressed. And being addressed from the start, when we are designing the technological tools. Regulatory frameworks and technological deployments should evolve in parallel.

We have to tell content from container. What matters is not the container, but content; what matters is not the document, but data. And this content has to be accessed with the independence of the container: we need open linked data.


We have to reset our legal guaranties. To assert our rights. To simplify procedures… or just get rid of the concept of “administrative procedure”… or to create ad-hoc and on-time procedures.


Nacho Alamillo: the lobbies of the industry are setting up de facto standards (which often become de iure standards) but there are no representatives of the citizenry in the agoras where the lobbies meet. What should we do about that? Julián Valero: this is a very wicked issue. Yes, the citizens should participate in these debates, but we do not how. To regulate the participation in these agoras would not be enforceable or realistic. Maybe focusing on where the norm is applied (e.g. contracting some technologies) would be a better approach.


10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)

IDP2014 (IX). Yves Poullet: A new Privacy age: towards a citizen’s empowerment: New issues and new challenges

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Mònica Vilasau, Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Yves Poullet. Rector of the University of Namur (Belgium). Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Namur (UNamur) and Liège (Ulg).
A new Privacy age: towards a citizen’s empowerment: New issues and new challenges

Changes in the technological landscape

Characteristics of the new information systems, between Tera and Nano. More ability to store speech, data, images. Increasing capacity as regards the transmission. Increasing capacity as regards the processing. increasing capacity as regards the storage capacity. On the other end, multiplication of terminal devices which are now ubiquitous (GPS, RFID, mobiles, human implants…).

New applications. New ways to collect data, especially through web 2.0 platforms (social networking sites, online services…) and ambient intelligence (RFID, bodies’ implants…). And new ways of data storage, such as cloud computing.

We have to acknowledge that we increasingly have less control and even ownership of our own data, which “live in the cloud”. And, indeed, neither we know where data is, in what territory, and which laws affect them.

New methods of data processing. Profiling, a method using three steps: data warehouse, data mining, profiling of individuals. Neuroelectronics, which is the possibility to modify the functioning of our brain (through body implants and brain computer interfaces, e.g. to stimulate the memory function or to reduce stress). Affective computing, on how to interpret feelings (e.g. facial movements) and to adapt the environment or to take decisions on the basis of that interpretation.

New actors. Stantardisation of terminals of communication, protocols, led by private organizations (IETF, W3C) and not by public/international ones. New emerging actors, such as the terminals’ producers, which lack regulation upon their behaviour, without “technology control”. New gatekeepers. Blurring of borders and, with them, blurring of states’ sovereignty.

The legal answer: privacy or/and data protection

Initially, privacy was understood as a right to opacity, the right to be left alone. Progressively data protection as a new constitutional right besides privacy, a way of re-establishing a certain equilibrium between the informational powers, a right to self determination, to control the flows of one’s informational image.

Three principles:

  • Legitimacy of the processing.
  • Right to a transparent processing for the data subject.
  • Data protection authority (a new actor) as a balance keeper.

There is a trend of understanding privacy with the negative approach without reference to the large ‘privacy’ concept. We need to reassess the value of data protection today. We need to accurately manage the delicate balance between the need for intermitent retreat from others and the need for interaction and cooperation with others (cf. Arendt), now that there is a pervasive Lacanian “extimacy” due to social networking sites.

New privacy risks:

  • Opacity, and the risks of anticipatory conformism.
  • Decontextualization, data collected in one context might be used in another context.
  • Reductionism, from individual to her data and finally to her profile by using data related to other people.
  • Increasing assymmetry, between the informational powers of, from one part, the data subject and, from the other part, the data controller.
  • Towards a suveillance society.
  • Abolition of some rights.

The human facing ICTs: a man traced and surveyed, a man “without masks”, a reduced man, a man normalized. Where it is question of dignity, of individual self-determination, of social justice and… definitively democracy. Privacy — which is much more than data protection — should be seen as self-development.

New rights of the data subject: right to be forgotten, right to data portability.


10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)

IDP2014 (VIII). Henrik Kaspersen: Cybercrime: a decade of transformations

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Maria José Pifarré, Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Henrik Kaspersen, in active life holder of the Computer Law Chair of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Cybercrime: a decade of transformations

A definition of computer cribe by Donn Parker (1974):

  • The computer system is the target.
  • The computer system is the instrument.
  • The computer system is the environment.
  • The computer system is legitimation.

Computer crime evolves in parallel, in the level of crime and complexity, with the development of ICTs. And as crime increased and became more complex, so did international definitions, recommendations and adoption of measures to fight computer crime and to prevent it.

There is much cybercrime that actually is not such, as the involvement of communications in crime does not always mean that it is cybercrime properly speaking. So, we need to (re)define well cybercrime, state the different types of cybercrime, avoid duplication of domestic law, avoid specification and focus instead only on main conduct, etc.

Types of cybercrime:

  • Technical crimes: threat of ICT-security and integrity (cracking, phishing, etc.).
  • Fraud by means of ICT or by manipulation of ICT (forgery, embezzlement, identity theft, etc.)
  • Content related offences: crimes that seem to be particularly facilitated by ICT (child abuse images, racist and xenophobe expressions, etc.); crimes that are likely not to be criminalized in most countries.

There has been an increasing co-operation at the international level to prevent and fight cybercrime. EU co-funded projects: Cyber@IPA for the Balkans and Turkey; Cyber@EAP for Eastern Europe; Glacy, with a worldwide approach.

The cybercrime convention of 2001 tries to bring together as much countries as possible to collaborate on the fight against cybercrime, as it is committed anywhere, and you can suffer it also anywhere. Support programmes: legal training, exchange of data, technical knowledge, co-operation with third parties (industry, ISPs).

Challenges of the fight against cybercrime:

  • Lack of criminal statistics.
  • Analysis by victim-reports.
  • Emphasis on modus operandi.
  • Technical offences today are only instrument for common crime.
  • Specific perpetrator behaviour?


Ismael Peña-López: could it be possible to include in these international agreements something on the public sector, on governments and their behaviours against Internet-related freedoms? Kaspersen: that is a very difficult issue. Could be a good idea, but for instance it is very difficult to tell if a country digitally boycotts another country’s firms or infrastructures, whether this is cybercrime, or cyber warfare, and what consequences should arise from that. Cybercrime will most likely remain within the boundaries of criminal law.


10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)

IDP2014 (VII). Cybercrime

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Moderator: María José Pifarré de Moner, Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Sexting and sexual victimization online: prevalence and factors of risk among adults
Manuel Gámez-Guadix, Universidad de Deusto; Erika Borrajo, Universidad de Deusto; Carmen Almendros, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; Esther Calvete, Universidad de Deusto

Sexting stands for the creation and sharing of sexual content through the Internet. Online sexual victimization differs from sexting in that the later is not a volunteer action.

We believe that both practices are related, as the ones participating in sexting are more exposed to blackmailing and online sexual violence.

A survey was carried on with +800 people (2/3 women). Findings showed that at least 66.8% where involved in sexting practices (e.g. sending photos of oneself with nudity), with no differences of genre, and especially prevalent among people under 44 y.o., though it reaches people until 60y.o. And a significant relationship was found between sexting and online sexual violence.

Violence in dating through new technologies: prevalence, context and relationship with violence offline
Erika Borrajo, Universidad de Deusto; Manuel Gámez-Guadix, Universidad de Deusto; Esther Calvete, Universidad de Deusto

We believe there is a parallelism between bullying and cyberbullying and (offline) violence in dating and online violence in dating: threats, controlling and surveillance actions, etc.

There is an open debate whether this kind of violence is independent from “traditional” gender violence or it is another kind of this violence.

Surveys showed that control and surveillance is the most common practice in online dating violence, by means of texting applications, stealing passwords, etc. Reasons range from jealousy, kidding, reciprocity (“I do that to him/her because he/she does that to me”), etc. Usually men are more victims than women in this issue. There is a slight relationship between physical or psychological violence with online dating violence, but they have different nature and seem different practices.

These practices are bidirectional and are often seen as not important, a “just kidding” behaviours or “just a game”.

Civilian Direct Participation In Cyber Hostilities
François Delerue, Ph.D. researcher in International Law at the European University Institute.

Cyber warfare is the recourse to force using Internet and computer technology.

The legal regime of cyber warfare dates from 1945 (Jus contra bellum, UN charter), and 1949 (Jus in bello, Geneva Conventions), which is a mostly unsuitable framework, being the main problem that civilians can not be distinguished or left aside from combatants in cyber warfare.

Civilians should be left aside from combat unless they have direct participation in hostilities. What are the elements of direct participation in hostilities:

  • Threshold of harm.
  • Direct causation.
  • Belligerent nexus.
  • Temporal scope of the participation.
  • Restraint on the use of force.

Specific issues on cyber warfare:

  • The remote participation of civilians.
  • Te participation of unaware civilians.

Cyber warfare challenges the notion of direct participation in hostilities.


Q: how do you thing the right to be forgotten can affect this behaviours? Erika Borrajo: as a psychologist, it is important to stress the importance of some content they uploaded can now be erased from the Internet, as people change and may want not to be reminded of the past. The problem with the Internet is that victims are constantly re-victimized because their past actions haunt them in the present.

Q: is there any categorization for cyberwarfare on harms such as killing, wounding damage, etc. as it happens in offline warfare? François Delerue: in current legislation, there is not, so we still have to use killing or wounding as harms of the use of force.

Maria José Pifarré: do you believe the Internet has caused a shift from physical to psychological violence? (thus reducing physical violence, but making it more invisible) Erica Borrajo: in dating there does not seem to be a difference, and evidence shows that women are still more violent than men (though men are more harmful when violent).


10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)