Bloomsbury Professional catch up with lawyer and author, Dean Armstrong QC.
1. What first attracted you to Cyber Law?
Around 8 years ago, I was thinking about the next big developments in the law and I realised that everything was either online or somehow connected, or becoming connected to the digital age. That made me think that, as a lawyer, it would be sensible, as well as very exciting, to become expert in cyber and all matters cyber. What struck me, as I got more involved and gained greater knowledge of the subject, was how much of the traditional law could be related to matters cyber, but also how many gaps there were particularly in traditional legal remedies. The pace of technology has been so great but the law is struggling to catch up. My interest as a lawyer, is having the knowledge and expertise to bridge that gap.
2. What do you think has been the biggest development in Cyber Law in recent years?
The new digital age will be spearheaded by the development of Decentralised ledger technologies of which Blockchain is currently the best known. The realisation of the use of DLT’s for matters which are not immediately apparent will show that DLT’s have been the biggest disruptor since invention of the World Wide Web. The wholesale adoption of the blockchain as the ledger of choice by nation states and big corporates will take centre stage, but the lesser known ways where SDLT is used, will resonate as well. The ability to use DLT’s in art, music, voting and the health service, will truly revolutionise how records are kept and the efficiency of the new technology.
3. What do you think is the next big development in Blockchain and Cryptocurrency?
Just a few days ago, Facebook announced the intention to issue its first cryptocurrency, Libra Coin. To say that will be a groundbreaking development is, in my view, an understatement. The stated intention is that it will become a global currency backed a series of bank deposits and currencies. It will used to purchase goods and services through a standalone App for Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The ramifications are huge since this would be an example of a corporate, as opposed to a sovereign state, issuing currency. It is very early days but that is a departure. It would also underline, as we point out in the book, the vast significance of cryptocurrency and underline the fact that it is here to stay
4. Do you think there needs to be more regulation surrounding the internet?
Whenever new technology appears there are always questions of misuse. In my view, given the capacity for misuse, it is inevitable that regulation will need to be brought in. However, one of the huge benefits of the internet is the ability of ordinary people to add to the extent of knowledge. The balancing act for any future regulators will be to ensure that the balance between these two concepts is maintained in order for the internet to be a responsible and valuable resource for all.
Dean Armstrong QC is one of the authors of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: International Legal and Regulatory Challenges.