William Page on contemporary surveillance activities and the impact this has upon public spaces
This month’s Research Spotlight is on William Page, an early career researcher, and his work on contemporary surveillance activities and the impact this has upon public spaces. William’s current research is funded by the South East Network for Social Sciences through a doctorial training partnership provided by the Economic Social Research Council.
The Divergence of Privacy & Data Law in a Surveillance Society
William’s current research addresses socio-legal issues embodied within the deployment of Automatic Facial Recognition (AFR) technology. Within contemporary society both public and private sectors have sought to incorporate this technology into their policing strategies in an attempt to bring a new level of security to society. This research considers whether these technological advancements could hinder our ability to exercise and understand our fundamental rights within public spaces.
William’s research demonstrates how the deployment of AFR technology, within the public and private sectors, present core regulatory inconsistencies within the UK’s privacy and data framework. These inconsistencies are caused by the public and private sectors being regulated as distinctly separate bodies. This results in the allocation of privacy rights, within public spaces, becoming dependent on who is behind the camera. This places members of the public in a precarious position, as current law is inadequate, lacking in clarity, and does not effectively enable an individual to know and vindicate their rights. These preliminary insights have been presented and discussed at the Trinity College Dublin Law School Colloquium (2021).
This research will be further developed through exploring how these legal challenges have impacted the practical deployment of AFR technology within policing and private security. These insights seek to develop a practical insight into how security practices can impact social control within public space. William believes through understanding the practical realities of contemporary surveillance the current inconsistencies of law can be rectified to balance the needs of security and the fundamental rights of citizens.
Dr Mark Wilde shares his passion for rail law
Dr Mark Wilde is a pioneer in the field of rail law and is one of only a handful of academics in the country working in the area.
One does not automatically associate the subjects of railways and law. However, the railways have kept many lawyers in business from the dawn of the railway revolution! Without their expertise it would not have been possible to acquire the land to build railways and the powers to operate them. Today, the railways are still one of the country’s largest and most complex industries raising a multitude of legal issues.
Mark carries out research and has published articles relating to all aspects of the industry. His research covers the whole span of railway history, from the history of litigation on fire damage caused by sparks from steam locomotives, to potential noise nuisances that may be caused by HS2.
On his Railways and Law blog he offers insights into topical issues ranging from level crossing safety to the spread of Japanese Knotweed from railway embankments.
It is Mark’s long term ambition to establish railway law as a distinct branch of legal study and is working towards establishing a specific course on the subject.
Dr Fola Adeyemo on whistleblower protection and banking regulation
Dr Folashade Adeyemo‘s current research focuses on two areas broadly speaking. The first is whistleblower protection, with a focus on the Public Disclosure Act 1988. Her most recent publication is titled Rebutting the Presumption: Are Whistleblowers Really Protected Under PIDA and in the Case of the UK Banking Industry?, and was published by the Journal of Business Law. This paper was earlier accepted for presentation at the Athens Institute for Education & Research in 2019, and a webinar, hosted by the Global South Economic Dialogue on Financial Crime in 2020.
The second major area of research focus is banking regulation, with a jurisdictional interest in African countries. Fola’s earlier research focused specifically on Nigeria, and resulted in two publications in the Journal of International Banking and Regulation: The Achilles’ Heel of Whistleblowing: The Position of Nigerian Legislation (2016), focusing on examining the Nigerian legal framework for whistleblower protection; and Fifty Shades of Intrusion: A Critical Analysis of Nigeria’s Whistleblower Protection Bill 2011 (2017), exploring the provisions of the Bill which was presented to the Nigerian National Assembly. She also published two further papers in the same year: A Comparative Analysis of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and the US Troubled Asset Relief Program in the Banking and Financial Law Review, which compared the Nigerian and US approach to managing debt; and Towards the Creation of a Specialist Tribunal for Banking Law in Nigeria in Financial Regulation International, which argues for a specialist court in Nigeria to be created to address banking law matters.
Fola’s primary interest is in Banking Law, and this has a number of different components. In terms of teaching, she recently developed a new Banking Law module for undergraduate students in Part 2, which – in its first year – attracted over 190 students. She has also been invited to contribute a chapter on Banking Law to an edited collection on commercial law, forthcoming with Edward Elgar in 2021. In terms of her research, her current interest is on banking regulation and bank insolvencies in emerging economies. In relation to the former, Fola’s specific interest is on the effectiveness of banking regulation with a particular focus on comparing the Nigerian position with developed economies such as the UK and the US, but also with emerging economies such as South Africa and Kenya. In relation to the UK and the US and separate to the historical and colonial ties with these comparator jurisdictions, her interest is on the regulatory responses to the 2008 global financial crisis and how the banking environment in Nigeria can be improved. This research has led to Fola’s forthcoming accepted monograph, Banking Regulation in Africa: The Case of Nigeria and Other Emerging Economies (Routledge 2021). She has also written an article on Africa more widely in relation to the proposed Africa Central Bank, which was published in Financial Regulation International here.
In relation to developing economies, she is interested in how emerging economies manage bank insolvencies and her jurisdictional focus remains on Nigeria and other emerging economies. Fola co-hosted a conference with Lancaster University titled Bank Insolvencies in Developing Economies. This well attended conference also resulted in the acceptance of an edited collection – Bank Insolvency Law in Developing Economies – which is to be published by Routledge in 2021.
Dr Ruvi Ziegler and his work on EU citizenship, membership, and political participation
This month’s Research Spotlight is on Dr Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler and his work on EU citizenship, membership, and political participation.
Following the 23rd June 2016 referendum on the UK’s EU membership, Dr Ziegler sought to combine his scholarly interests with public engagement on a supranational (EU), national (UK) and local (Oxford) level. He was elected as the inaugural Chair of the Oxford European Association and (in 2018) as the elected Chair of the Board of Trustees of New Europeans (UK).
A leading expert in electoral rights whose monograph Voting Rights of Refugees has won acclaim, Dr. Ziegler authored in the lead-up to the 2019 European Parliamentary Elections a report entitled Political Participation of Mobile EU citizens: UK as part of the FAIREU (Fostering Awareness, Inclusion and Recognition of EU Mobile citizens’ Political Rights’ (2018) and EU-CITZEN (Academic Network to perform research services on issues pertaining to citizenship of the Union and related policies) projects (managed by GlobalCIT, an initiative hosted at the European University Institute to which Ruvi is a regular Contributoras a UK country expert). The projects’ findings were presented to the European Commission.
Dr. Ziegler participated in a Debate on ‘The Rights of EU citizens in the face of Brexit’ hosted by the European Parliamentary Association
Dr. Ziegler at the European Parliamentary Association debate
; co-drafted a European Parliament cross-party motion calling for the protection of acquired rights; took part in a Stakeholder meeting with the European Parliament President and spoke at the Sakharov Debate, ‘Uncertain Future: Rights and Citizenship in post-Brexit Britain’ hosted by the European Parliament in the UK.
Dr. Ziegler at the Sakharov debate
On the national (UK) level, early on in the Brexit process, Dr. Ziegler addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on EU citizenship rights. He made a written submission to the EU (Justice) sub-committee of the House of Lords as part of its Brexit: citizens’ rights inquiry where he argued that ‘The UK should guarantee all EU27 citizens in the UK that their electoral rights will be maintained in law’. In June 2017, jointly with Prof. Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Ruvi co-authored a policy paper entitled ‘The rights of EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27‘. In February 2017, prior to the passage of the (then) EU (notification of withdrawal) Bill, Dr. Ziegler made the normative case for unilateral guarantees, arguing that it is both logically flawed and morally indefensible for the UK to use EU27 citizens’ rights as ‘bargaining chips’ in the (then forthcoming) negotiations.
At a local (Oxford) level, some of Ruvi’s public initiatives included convening a panel on Brexit Impacts in the Oxford region (video); a meeting with MEPs to discuss the impact of the (them) prospective negotiations on rights of EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27; and a meeting prior to the UK House of Commons vote on the then EU (notification of withdrawal) bill.
Dr. Ziegler at the Oxford Town Hall event
Dr Ziegler’s current research in the area of EU citizenship, political participation, and identity centres around two main projects.
The first, a book chapter entitled ‘EU Citizenship in the Shadow of Brexit’, which will appear in Dora Kostakopoulou and Daniel Thym (eds), Research Handbook on European Union Citizenship‘. In his research, he seeks to explore the Brexit effect on electoral participation rights and the significance of disenfranchisement for our evolving understanding of the meaning and content of EU citizenship. Ruvi has discussed his ongoing research at the following forums: an invited workshop on ‘Brexit and International Law’ at Maastricht University; A New Europeans/Federal Trust conference; The Faculty of Law, Thammasat University (Bangkok); European Studies Center (New Haven); Minerva Center for the Rule of Law in Extreme Conditions (Haifa) and the International Law Forum, Hebrew University (Jerusalem); WZB International Citizenship Law Project (Berlin); McMullin statelessness centre, Melbourne Law School (Melbourne) . He has also published short contributions on related matters: ‘The Brexit effect – European Parliamentary Elections in the UK‘ (European Law Blog) and ‘Absent-Present Membership: EU Citizens in Brexit Britain‘ (International Association of Constitutional Law Blog).
The second, the EU passport project (full name: ‘my father was a wandering European: Triple Loyalties in Brexit Britain: British, Jewish, European?’). This is a cross-disciplinary project (co-initiator: Simon Albert) hosted by the Jewish Historical Society of England which seeks to gather the motivations, dilemmas, and feelings of people across the British Jewish community about (re)acquiring citizenship of an EU27 country that their ancestors have left, fled, or indeed were driven out of. To what extend do their considerations differ from those of other Britons who are seeking to retain their EU citizenship rights (e.g. by rediscovering Irish routes), and what reclaiming ancestral citizenship tells us about the links between citizenship, identity, and community? The project will culminate in a special volume of Transactions, the JHSE’s flagship publication. The project was publicly launched in London on 9 December 2019 at the Wiener Library. It featured in the Jewish Chronicle, Tablet magazine, and The Guardian. He presented the project at ‘Limmud Together’ conference (video) and at an Association of Jewish Refugees webinar (video). Hitherto, more than 120 respondents have filled the project questionnaire. Relatedly, Ruvi was recently interviewed on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio’s ‘As It Happens‘ programme (minutes 26:20-33:20) about the new changes to Austrian law enabling applications for restoration of citizenship from victims of national socialism and their descendants, which are likely to lead to a dramatic increase in the number of applications from British Jews. He was also invited to join an International Advisory Panel of a project entitled ‘Becoming Austrian: European Passports in Brexit Times’ (led by Professors Gideon Reuveni and Michael Collyer and hosted at the Sussex Weidenfeld Institute of Jewish Studies).
Professor Alina Tryfonidou on the EU free movement law and LGBT rights
This month’s Research Spotlight is on Professor Alina Tryfonidou and her work on EU free movement law and LGBT rights.
As a PhD researcher and an early career scholar, my research interests revolved around EU free movement law, mainly the free movement of goods between EU Member States and the rights that Union citizens enjoy under EU law to move and reside freely in the EU Member State of their choice. This research led to the publication of two monographs (here and here) and numerous articles in journals and edited volumes. A few years ago, I also developed a parallel interest in LGBT rights under EU law. It was, therefore, inevitable that the focus of my research would, subsequently, be on an area that lies at the confluence of my two main research interests: the free movement rights of LGB persons and their families under EU law.
Initially, my research explored the extent to which same-sex couples can move across borders within the EU and be recognised as a couple, with all the rights, benefits, and entitlements that this attracts under the law. My argument has been that EU law has the (legal) tools to require all EU Member States to recognise the status attached to same-sex couples that come to their territory from other EU Member States and to grant them the rights and entitlements that are bestowed on opposite-sex couples that have the same status. This research has appeared in journal articles (published in, among others, Columbia Journal of European Law (2015), European Law Review (2019), Feminist Legal Studies (2019) (open access)), and has been disseminated through blog posts (see here and here), presentations in universities in the UK and abroad, as well as in non-academic fora such as the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI rights (2019); it has, also, been cited by an Advocate General of the CJEU (see here, para. 64). I have also authored a report on this topic which was presented by NELFA to the European Commission in 2019.
My current research examines the position of rainbow families – families comprised of a same-sex couple and their child(ren) – under EU law. The impetus behind this research was an invitation I received in 2017 from the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament to give a speech at the Committee’s public hearing involving petitions brought by rainbow families who faced a number of legal difficulties when they moved between EU Member States in exercise of their free movement rights. Thanks to a period of research leave that the University of Reading granted me in 2018, I completed a long article – published in the Yearbook of European Law (2019) – where I explain why EU law must be read as requiring EU Member States to recognise the legal ties between a child and both his/her (same-sex) parents, when rainbow families move to their territory. Moreover, earlier this year I wrote a report for NELFA arguing that EU law requires EU Member States to legally recognise the existing ties among people within rainbow families when they cross borders. At a February 2020 meeting with the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, NELFA sought to raise awareness of the current situation and called for a change by presenting my report. In addition, I am currently co-authoring a study on ‘Obstacles to the free movement of rainbow families in the European Union’ for the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament.
Professor Mike Schmitt on the exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic in cyberspace
This month’s Research Spotlight is on Professor Michael Schmitt, who has been active with other members of the international law community in shining a spotlight on the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic is being maliciously exploited by states and nonstate actors in cyberspace.
According to Mike,
“Such cyber operations range from classic criminality, such as conducting ransomware attacks against medical facilities, to online misinformation campaigns designed to disrupt the public health responses of other nations.”
In April, Mike presented on the international law implications of the pandemic in cyberspace during a virtual global workshop sponsored by the Cyber Peace Institute, where he sits on the Advisory Board. The following month, he was one of over 30 other leading international law scholars and practitioners from around the world who issued the “Oxford Statement on the International Law Protections against Cyber Operations Targeting the Health Care Sector”. Later that month, Mike joined former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Nobel Prize recipients Desmond Tutu and Mohamed ElBaradei, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, Microsoft President Brad Smith, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo and 35 other global leaders in calling on all governments to work together to stop cyber attacks hampering hospitals and international organizations fighting COVID-19.
Mike has also turned his scholarship to the subject. In collaboration with Professor Marko Milanovic from the University of Nottingham, he authored a major study on ‘Cyber “Attacks” and Cyber (Mis)information Operations during a Pandemic’, that examines how hostile cyber operations during a health crisis can violate the international law rules requiring respect for the sovereignty of other states, prohibiting intervention and the use of force in international relations, and obligating states to exercise due diligence in ensuring their territory is not used as the base for such cyber operations. Additionally, in the article, Mike and Professor Milanovic take a deep dive into COVID-19 related human rights rules that bar certain cyber operations placing individuals at risk, as well as the obligation of governments to protect those on its territory from such operations. Their work is forthcoming in a special edition of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, a prominent American law journal.
The University of Reading School of Law has been actively delivering its new Executive Course in the International Law of Cyber Operations. Directed by Mike, the programme is designed for government officials with a portfolio related to cyber activities. Participants include not only lawyers, but also policy makers and those involved in the technical aspects of cyber operations. The School of Law certifies these courses, which are offered as part of the global capacity-building programs of various nations. In May 2020, the first week-long course was delivered virtually to participants from throughout the Americas under the sponsorship of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In May and June this year, Mike also gave a series of webinars on issues on cyber law for Australian attorneys from throughout the government at the request of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Next on the agenda are two virtual courses in July 2020 sponsored by DFAT. The first is a three-day seminar for “Women in Cyber” for government officials across the globe. It will be followed by a virtual Executive Course for Indonesian government officials dealing with cyber matters. While the calendar for the remainder of 2020 remains in flux due to the pandemic, including whether the courses will be delivered online or in person, two more Americas courses in collaboration with the OAS and Dutch MFA, as well as three Executive Courses for government officials from Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states that are jointly sponsored by Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA), the Dutch MFA and Australia’s DFAT, are already scheduled. Given the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks, and the desire of nations around the world to identify and develop norms governing cyber operations, Reading School of Law’s Executive Program is a major contribution to stability and security in cyberspace.
Professor Rosa Freedman and her 'Safeguarding Children in Peacekeeping Project'
This month’s Research Spotlight is on Professor Rosa Freedman and her ‘Safeguarding Children in Peacekeeping Project‘ that she is jointly running with Sarah Blakemore, the CEO of Keeping Children Safe.
The vast majority of the over 100,000 United Nations (UN) uniformed peacekeeping personnel perform their jobs with courage, dedication and professionalism. Yet those who commit sexual offences bring shame on the entire UN system and betray the trust of those that they have been sent to protect. There is a need for system-wide reform to ensure that such abuses cannot again occur with widespread impunity. Despite recent measures announced by the new UN Secretary-General, attempts to reform the system have been piecemeal and have not addressed a complex problem that requires nuanced and targeted responses.
While there is general agreement at the UN, in member states, and from civil society, about what needs to be done to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, very few practical solutions have been proposed let alone implemented. A key problem is that the current laws, policies and practices to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse operate across different scales, including at the international level, at the UN level, at the local level where the peacekeeping operation is being carried out, and within the countries that contribute troops to peacekeeping operations. As a result, very few effective solutions have been designed that can address the causes and consequences of peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse. The project team have conducted research to produce a robust, evidence-based solution that can be adapted to be implemented in all peacekeeping entities in a context-specific manner.
The project started in 2016 and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, and has been undertaken together with the UN and the UK Department for International Development. As a result of this work and her expertise in this field, the UN appointed Rosa as a member of the Secretary-General’s Civil Society Advisory Board on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, and as a specialist adviser on safeguarding to the UK Government’s International Development Select Committee.