Tag Archives: University

Legal Implications of Internet Filtering

Five years, eleven months and some 5 days or so after my very first lecture on law, I have handed in my final contribution to my six years of legal studies. As it is a work of some importance, both academically and personally, I publish it here.

Here’s the non-legal intro to show you what it’s all about. Or you can omit reading it here, and read it in the document itself: Legal Implications of Internet Filtering.

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Bye Bye London

When I was twenty-two,
It was a very good year,
It was a very good year for independent life,
And nights in London town,
We rarely felt down,
And had great things to do,
When I was twenty-two

Thus Ervin Drake’s song (popularised by Frank Sinatra) would have gone, had the composer of “It Was A Very Good Year” benefited from my support as lyricist.
The academic year of 2009-2010 has now come and gone, and I believe my time in London was not only well spent but also great fun.
Between work and play, squirrels and pigeons, Irish and Indian, cuisine and grub, it was a wonderful blend of smiles and tears (well, not quite) from mid-September to end of June.

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Cyberlaw – an area of law?

Short essay done for class – because it’s more opinion than anything, I thought I might share it. Warning: legal stuff.


What is cyberlaw? Cyberlaw is the law applicable in ‘cyberspace’, a seemingly ‘global-economic zone, borderless and unregulatable’ (John Perry Barlow in 1966, quoted in Reed, 2004). Yet, as Chris Reed argues, it is possible to proceed to a localisation in the ‘physical’ world of the constituent elements of any given activity in cyberspace, and national laws will therefore apply, in accordance with rules on applicable law (such as the Rome I and Rome II Regulations, at the level of the European Union).

Therefore, there are as many legal orders in cyberspace as there are national (or supranational) legal orders.

Having made these preliminary remarks, the original question, to which the introductory statement refers, remains: is cyberlaw an area of law?

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Filtering information on the internet

While the world discusses Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize (I’m on the “what has he done so far?” side), I wish to draw your attention to something entirely different: law and technology.

I am in the process of finding a topic for the 15,000-word dissertation that I shall write during this year, and therefore wish to lay out my current ideas, in the hope that one or two might give their opinion.

When using the internet, most of us feel free: we can type anything in Google, and find our way to a million different results. We can go to Amazon or eBay, search for anything, and probably find one or two things of interest to us. We can read a blog, click on a link, and find ourselves reading articles of diverging points of view. A seemingly infinite realm of information is available at our fingertips.

However, all is not golden in this world of apparent freedom. In many States (from China to the UK), users are limited in their use of the internet by “filters”, which are meant to block access to specific (categories of) websites. Certain items of information are blocked in a more specific manner at the level of websites, when the website owner/administrator/moderator applies censorship. All in all, these intermediaries control available information.

As such, when user tries to access content, such access may be denied. Sometimes, the user is fully unaware of the existence of the information in question, but not all the time. Does this hinder freedom of access to information? Does this hinder the information creator’s freedom of speech? Whence does the right to censor/block information come? Is the creator or intermediary liable to the user if illegal/offensive/… material isn’t blocked? Is the intermediary liable to the creator or to the user for information wrongfully blocked? Does the creator not have a right to access the information created by himself?

This is the kind of question that I believe I would ask and try to answer. Concerns of legitimacy and effectiveness must be addressed, though the focus would be the legal point of view.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Two weeks later, still intrigued

Something is in the air, one might say. Or perhaps something about it speaks directly to my inner self. Whatever the reason, London never ceases to surprise me in a positive way, and feelings of attachment have grown within the heart of a person otherwise indifferent to large cities.

Another poet’s soul captured by an immortal city, perhaps? I did write a poem about the Serpentine lake, a magnet pulling all visitors towards its shores in Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens:

Serpentine Song

Glitter, glitter, Serpentine,
May your birdsong grow, may your surface shine
In the light of day, you have frozen time
With an air so sweet that it tastes sublime

Whisper, whisper, Serpentine,
Such a mystic view makes you seem divine
When you speak to the trees, to the rose and lime,
Nature bows to the sound of your glorious chime

Remember, remember, Serpentine,
I shall always cherish this memory of mine.

It is worth stating that the mere writing of a poem about a place is not enough for me to fall in love with the place. As such, we must dig deeper to understand my sudden appreciation of this metropolis.

Continue reading Two weeks later, still intrigued

Good-bye Brussels, Hello London!

It’s been just over 50 hours since I arrived in London, but I have already taken a liking to where I am, the Hampstead Residence, and to the inner parts of the city, where I’ll be studying.

On the one side of the Hampstead Residence, walking for one minute will land you amidst Aston Martins, Jaguars and even the odd Rolls Royce, in an area of architectural magnificence. Rich, peaceful and quiet are the adjectives one might attribute to this zone.
On the other side, around Finchley Road, a squirrel hides from the busy traffic, seeking refuge in the green areas. The architecture is no longer grand but more heterogeneous, and during the 15-minute walk separating the Hampstead Residence from Finchley Road Tube Station (10 if you keep a good pace), residential areas mingle with shops.

Supermarkets are generally also 15 minutes away at a “student” walking pace, which makes for good exercise if done regularly.

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A Master of Laws

It is done. Five years of suffering, toiling, sweat and tears are over. All right, maybe it wasn’t that bad. After all, I had lots of fun.

Nevertheless, the news item remains the same: I have successfully completed my Master’s degree in Law. As of Friday 26 June 2009, I have become a “Master of Laws”, and with “Distinction” too (for the Brits, it’s a “2:1”; for others, it translates into a “B”).

There, you may bow down before me and call me “Master”.

Now… one year left. I have met the requirements for my offer at King’s College London to become “unconditional”, so there’s a 99% chance I’ll be in London next year, for a course on Information Technology Law.
Yet more law, I know. I must be suicidal. That’s life!

A new webboard design: critique?

Now that I have defended my Master Thesis, I “only” have three exams to prepare (one of which is basically a 15-page paper). As such, the Master Thesis was by far the largest work to be done for university, and I therefore took a small break from working.

That break turned out to be spent on another kind of work, web design. In July, I will normally become the administrator for our Law Faculty student webboard & website, and I grew somewhat tired of the Cobalt theme for phpBB2, which is currently used.
I therefore got to work on another design, something fresh.

The result is a working board on www.arpia.be/droides/, only a test so far. The board is in French, but I’m looking for feedback on the general design, which shouldn’t require a great deal of linguistic skills. There’s a test user, “Test”, with the password set as “testpass”.
Anything that desperately needs changing? Suggestions? …?
There are two working themes, and you can switch between them in the footer (“Droïdes – Droïdes2”). Just click, and a whole new layout appears.

Edit: updated.

Master Thesis: Use of Comparative Law in European Law

I’m very proud to present you all with my newest creation, one on which my whole year depends: my Master Thesis, or “Mémoire”.
For our Master in Laws degree in Belgium, we are required to write a 60-page paper. For me, the subject was the use of comparative law in European law. In other words, it’s all about whether the European institutions draw inspiration from the laws of Member States when creating their own law.

Clocking in at 63 pages (81 pages with the cover, table of contents and bibliography), my Mémoire analyses in a first stage whether in general, the European institutions make use of comparative law. In the second part, I analyse a number of different, recent acts, to determine whether the use of comparative law has had any influence on the act’s content.

Now, I won’t recommend reading this if the general idea isn’t remotely interesting to you.
If on the other hand the idea piques your interest, rest assured that I have tried to make the content fully accessible to people with no knowledge of law (well, at least the first part – the second uses a bunch of legal concepts).

So, if interested, you can view/download/print the PDF document: Use of Comparative Law in European Law.

Note the “Peter A. Craddock”, to avoid confusion with the other Peter Craddocks of the world.

The MacBooks have landed

PC makers, run! The cause is lost: Mac laptops rule the world!

While this statement may be somewhat exaggerated (ever so slightly), it is based on the ultimate proof: my observations.

During my first year at university, back in September 2004, there were probably 10 laptops present during lectures, while we were 300 students in our first year of Law. Laptops were marginal, as they have been for many a year in universities in Continental Europe, where courses are often given ex cathedra and aren’t highly interactive.

Continue reading The MacBooks have landed