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The Berkman Center’s Internet Law (iLaw) program has been one of our flagship teaching efforts, initiated in 2000 as a means to offer the public a way to learn about the essential legal, economic, and public interest debates surrounding the Internet and new technologies. Since its inception, and across gatherings in Cambridge, Palo Alto, Mexico City, Tallinn, Turin, and Rio, the iLaw program has enabled participants to consider the legal and policy environment that governs online activity, to examine the Net’s changing technological character, to explore the implications of Internet policy and legal reforms, and to identify how these reforms affect the public interest. The last iLaw was held in 2006. [Website for iLaw 2000-2006.]

We are launching the next iteration of iLaw as an intensive, week-long Harvard Law School program and course just prior to the beginning of 2L and 3L classes at HLS. iLaw 2011 will bring Berkman faculty members together with colleagues from the Engineering School’s Center for Research and Computation and Society and others from around the University to engage in a collaborative teaching effort, aimed at defining the current state of play of the cyberlaw field, broadly defined, and developing an associated curriculum. In addition to HLS students, a select number of professionals, practitioners, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and others will be invited to exchange ideas about current debates, difficult questions, and emerging issues in the Internet space. Students will develop a foundational knowledge of the cyberlaw field, including recent scholarship and new activities in legal, policy, and regulatory environments.

Since the last iLaw conference was held nearly five years ago, in Lima, Peru, the field of ‘cyberlaw’ has expanded and evolved. Relevant issues emerge on an almost daily basis. For example, the advent of cloud computing or the role of new technologies in recent protests in North Africa and the Middle East, growing Internet usage trends or increased efforts by governments to control the online space. The legal and regulatory issues that govern new technologies, alongside the actors who provide them and the users who engage with them, have put many Net issues at the center of global policy debates.

These and other developments have impacted our understanding of basic legal, normative, and policy doctrines and foundational approaches to the study of cyberlaw. Concepts such as privacy, property, speech and governance have evolved. iLaw 2011 will be a unique opportunity to reexamine these areas of inquiry and core questions, while engaging with the new and emerging issues and thorny debates that are constantly reshaping the field.

As a University-wide center, the Berkman Center is uniquely positioned to convene a wide variety of academics from across the Harvard community, as well as from other institutions who are working on these issues. The program will provide a venue for the sharing academic research and interdisciplinary scholarship, while ensuring that diverse tools, research methodologies and disciplines are incorporated in the program.

The central aim is to convene Harvard Law and Harvard University faculty members and students, along with practitioners and technologists, to reignite the sharing of cyberlaw scholarship and offer a rigorous, fully fledged HLS survey course and program on cyberlaw topics.

For more information about iLaw 2011, please visit the iLaw 2011 wiki.