Prior to his appointment as Inaugural Dean of the TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology at the Technical University of Munich and Rector of the Munich School of Politics and Public Policy, Dr. Urs Gasser served as Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School and from 2009-2021 as Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. His research and teaching activities focus on information law, policy, society issues, and the changing role of academia in the digitally networked age.
Research projects – several involving the Global Network of Internet & Society Centers, which he helped to incubate – focus on the governance of rapidly evolving technologies such as Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence, with a particular interest in privacy and security issues and the broader implications of these technologies, including questions of agency, autonomy, and trust. Recently, much of his work focused on the promise and limitations of digital responses to the COVID-19 pandemic from a comparative perspective. As a longer-term research interest, he studies the patterns of interaction between law and innovation, and innovation with the legal system in the digital age.
Dr. Gasser has written and edited several books on digital technology issues, and published over 100 articles in professional journals. He is the co-author of “Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives” (Basic Books, 2008 and 2016, with John Palfrey), which has been translated into 10 languages (including Chinese), co-author of “Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems” (Basic Books, 2012, with John Palfrey), and author of a forthcoming book on the future of digital privacy. Recent book publications include Remembering and Forgetting in the Digital Age (Springer, 2018, Co-Editor),Big Data, Health Law, and Bioethics (Cambridge University Press, 2018, Co-Editor), and The Connected Parent (Basic Books 2020, with John Palfrey). Additional information about his research can be found on his SSRN author page.
In addition to his appointments at Harvard, Dr. Gasser had visiting professorships at the Singapore Management University School of Law, the University of Zurich Faculty of Law, KEIO University (Japan) and the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland), and taught at Fudan University School of Management (China). He serves as a trustee on the board of the Digital Asia Hub and was formerly a member of the board of the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen, the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin, a trustee of the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at the Polytechnic of Turin, and a Fellow at the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research. He served as a Senior Advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Future of the Internet Initiative, a member of the Global Future Council on New Metrics, and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality. He is a member of the German Digital Council, appointed by Angela Merkel.
Dr. Gasser graduated from the University of St. Gallen (lic.iur., Dr.iur.) as well as Harvard Law School (LL.M. ‘03) and received several academic awards and prizes for his research, including Harvard’s Landon H. Gammon Fellowship for academic excellence and the “Walther Hug-Preis Schweiz,” a prize for the best doctoral thesis in law nationwide, among others. Before returning to the Berkman Klein Center as Executive Director in 2009, he was an Associate Professor of Law at the University of St. Gallen, where he led the Research Center for Information Law as Faculty Director. Prior to his St. Gallen appointment, he spent three years as a resident fellow at the Berkman Klein Center, where he was later appointed Faculty Fellow. He also initiated and chaired the Harvard-Yale-Cyberscholar Working Group, and was a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School.
Dr. Gasser frequently acts as a commentator on digital technology, policy, and society issues for the US and European media. The disclosure of related outside interests and activities can be found here.