Governance and Regulation of Digital Technology

Governance and Regulation of Digital Technology

Elective course in the master of Law & Technology at Erasmus University Rotterdam


This course is about the governance and regulation of digital technology. Digital technology is a broad concept, we will not cover all digital technologies that are available or upcoming. A selection is made. Examples of digital technologies that are considered in this course are: artificial intelligence and digital tools that are used in legal professions or that have legal relevance. Similarly, we will not be able to cover all legislation that may be relevant for digital technologies, again a selection is made.
In this course, two main questions related to governance of digital technology are addressed:

1) why should digital technology be regulated? and
2) how is digital technology regulated?

Both questions are approached from an analytical perspective. This means we do not assume that it is per se needed to regulate (new) technologies with specific regulations. The questions instigate a closer look at the challenges that are presented by certain digital technologies to society and to the existing legal framework. Several sub-questions can be raised: what are the challenges that a particular digital technology causes to society? And can these challenges be adequately addressed by existing law, or is specific legislation needed?

Law can both facilitate and regulate digital technologies. When we look at how technology is regulated, the analytical perspective entails that we asses if the relevant regulation can adequately address the challenges or problems that are caused by digital technologies. Can the regulation at hand -at least theoretically- live up to its aims? And: are there any follow up questions or new problems that arise because of the technology specific laws? Governance and regulation of digital technology takes place on several levels. Global digital governance encompasses transnational and international (soft) law, rules, norms, institutions, and standards that shape the regulation related to the development and use of digital technologies. The legal framework that is considered in this course is international and (mainly) European. This course includes both public and private law perspectives.

Several topics that are relevant for the governance of digital technologies are expressly not covered in this course, because they are addressed in other courses of the Master program, this includes: ethics, fundamental rights, the protection of personal data, the legal status of non-personal data and datasecurity. These issues may at times be touched upon in this course, to indicate their relevance and their place in the bigger constellation that is relevant when considering governance and regulation of technology.

Course objectives:

At the end of this course students:

  • have an analytical understanding of the theory on governance and regulation of digital technologies;
  • can apply their theoretical knowledge on governance and regulation to different types of digital technology;
  • have general knowledge of the legal framework that is relevant for AI and software tools;
  • are able to adopt an analytical attitude regarding the materials and legal framework that is taught in this course;
  • can discuss on an academic level with others concerning the subject matter of the course.

For more information, please click here for the course syllabus.