The iii is an international group of researchers who study the legal, social, philosophical, and economic aspects of the internet. We comment on novel technologies, internet in general and more specific the interplay between the internet and the contributors’ own areas of expertise. More about us.

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Ripples from across the pond: Extraterritorial Effects of the Microsoft Ireland Case

21 Sep, 2016   | by:


One of the big internet cases of this year, the Microsoft Ireland case, has come to an end about a month ago as the 2nd Circuit Court has handed down it’s ruling in favour of Microsoft. The case made quite a splash and has been covered  before at the RENFORCE blog. With the verdict in, the time is ripe to revisit it and look at it again, this time from a different angle.

The case started when Microsoft was served with a (domestic) search warrant by the U.S. government under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to produce information relating to a drugs trafficking and money laundering case. The warrant included the production of e-mails  stored behind the msn.com domain, which is operated by Microsoft. Microsoft declined to comply with the warrant as far as the e-mails were concerned because, according to Microsoft, those e-mails were located on servers in Ireland and only there, and therefore not susceptible to a domestic search warrant. More…


Hacking WikiLeaks’ Whistle: how attack based transparency ruins leaks

11 Aug, 2016   | by:

 Using the internet to publish leaked data made the news again in the last few weeks through global media coverage of WikiLeaks’ recently published  “Erdoğan emails”, belonging to Turkey’s ruling party, and the Democratic National Conference email archive. Both stories were framed as revealing hidden truths and promoting transparency through the ever-radical distributed publishing capacity of the internet.

However, these revelations stand out because they were not leaks; there were no whistleblowers. Instead, we see two occasions where WikiLeaks used material that was purloined by hackers outside of the target organisations, who then offered the data to WikiLeaks for publication. By accepting, WikiLeaks got hacked at its own game. The DNC and AKP disclosures provide some ‘scientific journalism’ for Assange of how and why hacking-to-leak falls short. More…

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Robotics Workshop Announcement

29 Jun, 2016   | by: and

Two of our contributors, Dr. Christoph Lutz and Aurelia Tamò, are co-organizing with Eduard Fosch Villaronga and Jo Bac a twinned workshop on robotics, to be held in both Barcelona (Spain) and Yokohama (Japan). These workshops take place on 2 and 14 November 2016 and will have the same content and format. Participants can select which workshop they would prefer to attend.


Does Europe need an industry data protection right?

19 Jun, 2016   | by:


On June 15, the Representation of the state North-Rhine Westphalia to the EU hosted a panel of renowned experts and high-level representatives from the European Commission and the industry, all gathered in Brussels to answer a daunting question: does the EU data economy need an industry data protection right?


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Robots, robots everywhere!*

3 May, 2016   | by: and


We were among the lucky ones chosen to present at the 2016 We Robot Conference and for both of us, it was one of the best conferences we have ever attended. We Robot 2016 took place at the University of Miami and was hosted mainly by Professor Michael Froomkin. From the organization to the speakers: everything was amazing! We won’t address every topic discussed at the conference but we will give you a taste of the topics and point you to some interesting readings in this area. Interested parties should also check out the We Robot website and consider applying for next year’s edition, taking place on March 31 & April 1 at Yale University. More…

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The EU Drone Regulation – No Such Thing as a Magic Stick

12 Apr, 2016   | by:


In her speech “Time for delivery” at the aviation summit in Brussels in January 2016, European Commissioner for transport Violeta Bulc announced that this year the Commission will deliver a proposal for a basic legal framework for the safe use of drones at the European level. EU-wide rules will materialise the European Commission’s aviation strategy revealed in the EC 2014 communication and, as many hope, boost the market while building confidence in drones’ manufacturers and users. Unfortunately, the Commission does not have a magic stick that would instantly create a well-balanced and sustainable EU regulatory landscape. Up until now, member states’ steps towards smart regulation have been slow and, as it will be shown below, a daunting task for many of them, in particular for the small ones.

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Taxing Internet Use: the failed Hungarian proposal. Interview with Balázs Gulyás

2 Nov, 2015   | by: and


Balázs Gulyás is a young Hungarian sociologist and activist who helped organize mass protests that took place in Hungary in autumn 2014 against a government proposal to tax the Internet. Gulyás organized protests against a proposal to tax based on the amount of data transferred or “consumed”. With him, tens of thousands of Hungarians took to streets to protest, which forced the government to withdraw its plans to directly tax Internet use.

We recently had a chance to talk to Mr. Gulyás about the protests and their impact on Hungarian society, and broader subjects of Internet taxation and Internet governance. The interview took place in Budapest, Hungary, on July 12th 2015.


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CJEU invalidates Privacy Safe Harbour in Schrems-case – Highlights

6 Oct, 2015   | by:


Today the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidated Decision 2000/520 of the European Commission establishing a safe harbour for transferring personal data from the EU to the US. Furthermore, it clarified and strengthened the role of national Data Protection Authorities when such a safe harbour is issued. The judgment is explained by some highlights, and the post is concluded with the Commission’s response.

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Long Live hitchBOT — How to Deal with Robots and the Ethical Issues they Trigger

3 Sep, 2015   | by: and

The abrupt death of hitchBOT on August 1, 2015 shocked its fans. hitchBOT, the friendly hitchhiker robot, had traveled across Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and some parts of the USA. In Philadelphia, however, the robot was vandalized—a scenario he had not been programmed to deal with. And so his journey ended. More…

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Science fiction film and the idea that the internet is actually a person

7 Aug, 2015   | by:


(Spoiler alert: Ex Machina & The Age of Ultron)


What if the internet was a person? This idea, that the internet could have a personality, is a theme that has recently appeared in two big-budget sci-fi film releases over the last little while. We’ve got Ex Machina, a story about the search for artificial intelligence, and The Avengers: The Age of Ultron , where the main villain is an alien AI. But the idea stretches back a fair bit further. More…

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A Privacy Roundtable Take on Email Tracking Technologies

8 Jul, 2015   | by:


We would like to follow up on the activities of our Privacy Roundtable, so as to keep you in the loop. As we mentioned in January, we created the “Sankt Galler Privacy Interaction Framework” (short: SG-PIF) – an interdisciplinary approach to analyze current and future privacy issues. One phenomenon that caught our eye was email tracking. More…

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Facebook has to identify uploader of revenge porn, says Dutch court

25 Jun, 2015   | by:


A Dutch Court today ruled that Facebook has a duty to identify a person who has uploaded revenge porn video on its social network. In this case, the video displays a woman, Chantal, performing oral sex on her now ex-boyfriend. A fake account bearing Chantal’s name was created and used to share the private video with her friends and others. Chantal’s ex-boyfriend, who recorded the video, has always denied uploading the video. Although Facebook removed the video within one hour, the video had already found its way online and is still being shared. Chantal went to court and claimed release of information identifying of the person who created the fake account and uploaded the video. More…



Elonis case decided by U.S. Supreme Court leaves lingering questions for online speech

12 Jun, 2015   | by:


Facebook is the modern-day microphone. The social media platform, in contrast to traditional ways of conveying messages, provides the opportunity for opinions to be amplified immediately to millions of others with the click of a mouse.

But unlike an orator physically standing before you where speech patterns can be scrutinized, emotions can be evaluated, and body language can be deciphered, words from a Facebook user become one-dimensional in transit to readers. Often, those construing messages miles away add their own color and depth to the communication composed behind an emotionless keyboard, creating a discrepancy between the intent of the original speaker and the how the expression is perceived by other parties.

This results in dissonance in the interpretation of messages between the speaker and listener in the digital world not as prevalent through in-person communications. The divergence in the discernment of words created through online speech can add complications to speech laws where intent is a key inquiry and can determine innocence or guilt. More…

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Thou Shalt Never Forget

27 May, 2015   | by:


Disclaimer: Although the issue of memory in a digital society is a very cutting-edge topic, this report can be rather confusing for anyone who hasn’t been thinking about remembering and forgetting in the digital age for as long as I have, I apologize for that. For more insight on the ideas behind this workshop and the project run by the Research Center for Information Law (FIR-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland please take a look at our Wiki.

Last month, I organized and attended the concluding workshop for our (my professors’ and my) project called “Remembering and Forgetting in the Digital Age“. We invited renown scholars from all over the world who in one way or the other deal with memory in the digital age and we were very happy to host guests such Urs GasserViktor Mayer-SchönbergerMichael ArnoldWesley Shumar and many more. More…

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Business Fish goes all in: affect-images and the Facebook machine

8 May, 2015   | by:


In this brief piece, I’m going to address the culture of image responses in online communication, and look at how and why I think Facebook has incorporated its own system. Within the last two years Facebook has provided a new feature in its chat and thread systems: the ability to comment or post using small images called ‘stickers’. Finding a precise date on the inclusion of stickers into the Facebook social media ecology is difficult because the inclusion hasn’t been marked by much in the way of press releases or other trumpeting. Stickers subtly became a part of the everyday use of Facebook without much fanfare, neither changing extant services nor replacing existing ones. We collectively woke up one day, logged-in, maybe noted a new button in our chat windows and then perhaps thought in passing “was that smiley face there yesterday?” Perhaps we used them, perhaps we did not, but they were now here to stay. More…

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A library with no silence – Toute le mémoire du monde

11 Mar, 2015   | by:


A few weeks ago, I watched Toute le mémoire du monde as part of a project I was working on. It’s a short documentary film by Alain Resnais. Shallow as I am, I have a soft corner for high-resolution and detailed color display. But this film, in all it’s shades of grey (pardon the reference) captured my interests, into this contemplative essay.

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“YouNow” – Kids enjoy it but it could turn out to be Every Parent’s Nightmare!

20 Feb, 2015   | by:

the iii you now

YouNow is a website that went live in the US in 2011 and just came to Switzerland and the rest of the German-speaking world in 2014. It allows its users to broadcast themselves online via their webcam wherever they are and whenever they want. More…

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Happy Birthday to us – The Institute’s first 180 days were great!

14 Feb, 2015   | by:


Luke: February 2015 marks The Interdisciplinary Internet Institute’s 1/2 Birthday! It has been an exciting 6 months. Founded by 5 researchers who met at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society last September, the site has grown to 16 contributors all interested in how the internet affects our social, political, and personal lives.

Our content has covered how open data lets us track where celebrity’s take their taxis, why thousands of internet connected cameras are wide open for anyone to use as spying devices, Reddit’s reaction to the deluge of nude celebrity pictures that made the news in August, the launch of Facebook’s glittery competitor ello, the right to be forgotten, and on and on and on! Some of these stories were cross-posted in media such as The Conversation and the New York Times, others our authors wrote exclusively for our site.

These stories have been shared across Facebook, chirped at on Twitter, mentioned in EU Commission presentations and read in over 145 countries (no love from Greenland, or North Korea). At the top right of this page, we also provide links to ‘things that caught our eye’ and make the net ‘go round’. More…


A jubilant day for Net Neutrality?

5 Feb, 2015   | by:

network cables

On Wednesday, Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), made an announcement that let Net Neutrality advocates rejoice: he proposes the introduction of new rules “to preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression”. The proposed reclassification of internet services as Title II services under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 would impose stricter rules on those services, banning paid prioritisation, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. More…

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