The Law and Cyber Security research program brings together scholars, research fellows and doctoral students from the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law and the Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering, in order to promote groundbreaking academic research in the field of information technology, law and criminology, which can cultivate collaboration between academia, industry and government. Specifically, the program studies, through using truly inter-disciplinary methods the prevention and regulation of cyber threats and related law enforcement challenges.
As cyberspace — the online world of computer networks and the internet — evolves, so too are associated aspects such as global connectivity, access to data, vulnerable technologies and anonymity, which facilitate the spread of disruptive cyber activities, which have the potential for causing significant damage, and put basic individual rights, such as privacy, under considerable pressure. This has led to a growing debate concerning the very nature of information technology and its influence on the development of new legal doctrine. Since law and law enforcement were primarily developed to resolve activities of a physical nature that occur within a specific territory, today’s transition to a cyberspace has created new challenges which need to be considered within novel parameters of space, reality and dynamics.
New doctrines are being researched in the new Law and Cyber Security research program in several fields of study. For example in international law, issues pertaining to the law of war —devised to regulate wars between standing armies — now need to be extended to cover the uncharted territory of cyber warfare and internet terrorism. In the field of human rights too, concepts of privacy and freedom of expression must be reconceived to address surveillance and information dissemination activities in cyberspace for which there are no precedents, given the immense scope and reach of data flows. Likewise, in criminology, new models need to be developed to address the distinct features of cybercrimes, which differ vastly from traditional crimes, as well as the possibilities and risks of harnessing the internet to combat traditional crime. And in the field of intellectual property the new digital environment creates numerous new challenges in the areas of patent protection, knowhow copyrights and trademarks.
While the law has responded to the challenges arising from information technologies in some areas, in general it has failed to keep up with — and, moreover, preempt — the rapidly evolving developments in information technology. Clearly, there is an urgent need for a new and wholly comprehensive focus on conceptual and practical research. Since Israeli science in general, and computer scientists of the Hebrew University in particular, are longtime leaders in all aspects of internet security and robustness, it is only fitting that their colleagues in the field of law should assume a similar leadership role in the development of legal theory for the cyber era. Here too, the Faculty of Law's intellectual approach is interdisciplinary, with its participants coming from diverse fields such as international law, human rights, military law, intellectual property, and criminology, and interacting with computer science and other forms of scholarship.