Thursday, June 08, 2017

Demand for IT Law Specialists is Enormous

It has only five employees and several doctoral students, yet it still belongs among the top Czech, and even European, institutions. We’re talking about the Institute of Law and Technology at the Faculty of Law of Masaryk University. We interviewed its head, Assoc. Prof. Radim Polčák, about a new LL.M. study programme as well as knowledge transfer in the field of IT law.


In the autumn, the Faculty of Law is launching a new LL.M. study programme in the field of ICT law. You’re also considering starting an English Cybersecurity Law programme in the near future. Who are these programmes for?

The Czech programme is intended primarily for lawyers who are interested in specializing in ICT law and for those, who are already working in this field and are looking for ways to broaden their knowledge. However, the programme is available to non-lawyers as well. We’re offering a boot camp where those who are interested can familiarize themselves with the basic legal systematics/legislation and terminology, so that they can enrol on the programme. It’s mostly aimed at managers in the field of IT. Ideally, the study group should comprise 15 to 20 people.

In what ways will the Czech programme differ from the English one? And what kind of interest do you expect?

Cybersecurity law represents a relatively elite, limited agenda. There is no similar programme in Europe, so if we manage to open the English programme by 2018/2019, we’ll be expecting a lot of interest from abroad. On the other hand, the Czech programme is broader – it concerns ICT Law in general.

How would you describe ICT Law in layman’s terms? Does it concern for instance IP protection on the Internet?

Yes, among other things. But it also encompasses protection of privacy, cyber crime, electronic commerce, electronic documents… We assume that the field will develop gradually in reaction to current trends and developments. There is always a question which is dealt with more, e.g. because there are changes in legislation under way. Currently, it is IP protection because there is a new European legislation. Then it’s cybersecurity law in which there is new Czech and European legislation as well. People always show most interest in the area in which there is something new going on.

Is the field of IT and the related legal matters really as dynamic as it seems?

It is a bit of a cliché. A new technology may come, however it usually does not turn everything upside down. There are several basic directions in which the IT law develops. It’s not like we have to worry about some radical change occurring every year.

How big is the shortage of specialists in this field?

The demand for IT law specialists is enormous. Trouble is, that this field is very demanding and there are not enough people who’d be willing to apply themselves to it fully. As far as education goes, the offer is relatively solid, unfortunately only a few people are persistent enough to stay in the field.

Connections with companies and institutions outside the university spring to mind here – who does your department cooperate with?

We cooperate with most of the bigger law firms which specialize in IT law. We also collaborate with public authorities: there is a close cooperation with the National Security Authority and we expect to have a close relationship with the newly created National Office for Cybernetic and Information Security.

What do you have to offer to your partners?

We can offer a unique knowledge base within the Czech, and I dare say, even the European context. When people need specialized knowledge, they come to us and we give it to them. This concerns mainly the issues of protection of personal data, providers’ responsibilities, cyber crime, electronic evidence or documents etc.

So you’re in fact doing knowledge transfer…

We’re part of the Czech CyberCrime Centre of Excellence (C4E) which has been created years ago within a European project. The aim of this project was to establish knowledge centres which would support knowledge transfer between the academic sphere and mostly the public sector, more specifically, its law enforcement part, that is the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Police and the Courts. In future, we’d like to develop the centre as an institution which procures knowledge transfer between the academic and the public sphere in this area.

Does it mean that you also partake in making rules in your field?

Yes, for instance we participated in drafting the law on cybersecurity. The specialists from the Institute of Computer Sciences at MU also took part in creating the National Cyber Security Centre. We also cooperate with other security forces. This is the essence of knowledge transfer: when security forces are newly establishing this agenda, logically they don’t have any experience with it. We, on the other hand, do have it and we can share it.

Find more about the LL.M. programme in IT and communications technology law at llm.law.muni.cz