Assoc Prof Lyria Bennett Moses

Assoc Prof Lyria Bennett Moses, UNSW

Considering the cloud? 

Legislative assumptions about information meet cloud realities

Lyria is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at UNSW Sydney. Lyria's research explores issues around the relationship between technology and law, including the types of legal issues that arise as technology changes, how these issues are addressed in Australia and other jurisdictions, the application of standard legal categories such as property in new socio-technical contexts, the use of technologically-specific and sui generis legal rules, and the problems of treating "technology" as an object of regulation.

Lyria is currently a Key Researcher and Project Leader on the Data to Decisions CRC, exploring legal and policy issues surrounding the use of data and data analytics for law enforcement and national security. Lyria is also Chair of the Australia Chapter of the IEEE Society for the Social Implications of Technology, Lead of the UNSW Grand Challenge on "Living with 21st Century Technology", Chair of the Law, Technology and Innovation Research Network at UNSW Law and a PLuS Alliance Fellow.

As part of the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2DCRC), researchers at UNSW Law explored the legal and cultural barriers to information sharing in the context of the National Criminal Intelligence System (NCIS), a federated cloud-based information sharing platform for law enforcement. This study revealed broader challenges facing government departments considering cloud-based information sharing platforms.

One key finding of the project was that the primary legal challenge confronting the NCIS and other cloud-based platforms is an overly complex and outdated legal framework for information sharing and integration between Commonwealth, State and Territory entities. The complexity is largely the result of patchwork legislation across jurisdictions rather than policy differences between them: policy goals for improving information sharing are shared across a range of actors and jurisdictions. As well as being overly complex, this patchwork of legislation also contains fundamental incongruities in the way important concepts and terms are defined, used and interpreted. This is the result of the fact that, overall, the legal framework for sharing is premised on an outdated model of data ownership and use which is inappropriate for the digital age and, in particular, cloud-based platforms. Inappropriate terminology adds a layer of confusion and uncertainty in relation to NCIS and similar cloud-based information sharing models, and deepens the complexity.

This paper will both describe some of the current legal and practical challenges for cloud-based information sharing platforms and outline some of the project's recommendations.