Georgia Law center, ABILA to cohost International Law Weekend South April 7

Delighted to announce that the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law will cohost International Law Weekend South with American Branch of the International Law Association.

Entitled “Democracy and Governance in the Internet Era,” the daylong online conference will take place on Wednesday, April 7. Registration here.

Following a welcome by Georgia Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge and an introduction by ABILA President Leila Sadat, the conference will consist of these four 75-minute sessions, featuring an international array of scholars:

Civil society’s role in informing, protecting the right of peaceful assembly

In July 2020, the U.N. Human Rights Committee adopted General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 21 guarantees the right of peaceful assembly, and the GC provides an authoritative interpretation of that right as well as guidance to ensure its practical enjoyment, online and offline. The GC addresses a wide variety of assembly issues at a particularly critical time. In an effort to raise awareness of what the GC does, how it came to be, and its significance in the United States and beyond, this panel will feature experts from civil society organizations who helped inform the GC’s drafting and who are now helping to see it implemented.

Moderator:  Jonathan Peters, University of Georgia
• Francesca Fanucci, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law
• Paulina Gutierrez, Legal Officer, Article 19
• Michael Hamilton, University of East Anglia
• Daniel Simons, Greenpeace

Political Campaigns: Perspectives from Abroad

Existing rules governing political party spending and campaign finance are increasingly seen as not up to the task of effectively and transparently regulating political communications around elections. Social media algorithms that amplify outrage, rampant disinformation campaigns, and foreign interference in domestic elections all complicate what was already the challenging task of devising effective and fair regulation in this realm. This panel brings together election law scholars from around the world to discuss how their legal regimes are tackling these new and challenging problems.

Moderator: Lori A. Ringhand, University of Georgia
• Irene Couzigou, University of Aberdeen
• Yasmin Dawood, University of Toronto
• Jacob Eisler, University of Southampton
• Galen Irwin, Leiden University
• Graeme Orr, University of Queensland, Australia
• Ciara C. Torres-Spelliscy, Stetson University

Reforming the National Security State

For many, the past four years highlighted growing concerns over the U.S. national security state. For some, the concerns focused on national security priorities, including the last administration’s focus on immigration and trade. For others, the concerns focused on increased presidential unilateralism and broad readings of executive powers over treaty withdrawal and the use of force. For still others, the concerns focused on national security tools and how they have been used, from immigration enforcement to criminal investigations to individual sanctions.
With a new administration and a new Congress, many see this is a unique opportunity to reform the national security state. This roundtable will consider how the current administration might rethink priorities and tools and how Congress might approach its role in facilitating and limiting presidential discretion.

Participants:
• Diane Marie Amann, University of Georgia
• Elena Chachko, Harvard University
• Harlan G. Cohen, University of Georgia
• Maryam Jamshidi, University of Florida

Social Media and the Language of Statehood

Scholars, journalists, and companies increasingly frame social media’s decisionmaking using the language of democratic governance and human rights. From talk of “corporate constitutionalism” to Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” the lines between private and public “governance” are murkier than ever.
This panel will assess these rhetorical moves. Are they helpful in understanding how the companies operate and how their power might be constrained? Or do they provide corporate actions with false legitimacy that undermines or overpowers calls for public regulation?

Moderator: Thomas E. Kadri, University of Georgia
• Evelyn M. Aswad, Oklahoma College of Law
• Elettra Bietti, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Security, Harvard
• Brenda Dvoskin, Harvard University
• David Kaye, University of California, Irvine
• Genevieve Lakier, University of Chicago

2L Emina Sadic Herzberger, President of the Georgia Law International Law Society, will close the conference.

Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner publishes on AI and corporations in Cambridge Law Journal

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has published “Distributed Ledgers, Artificial Intelligence and the Purpose of the Corporation” in 79 Cambridge Law Journal 431 (2020).

Here’s the abstract:

“Distributed ledgers and blockchain technology are widely expected to promote more direct shareholder involvement in corporate governance by reducing costs of voting and trade clearance. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence may shrink the decision-making terrain where corporations rely on human management. This article analyses these technologies and concludes that, while such outcomes are plausible, their potential corporate governance impacts are likely more complex and contingent. Despite the implicit libertarianism that characterises much of the discourse, we in fact have choices to make about how such technologies are developed and deployed – and these policy decisions will have to be grounded in a normative conception of corporate purpose external to the technology itself.”

Bruner presented the work at a conference on “The Future of the Firm” held last year in London.

With ear to Global South, Georgia Law Professor Thomas Kadri discusses his “Networks of Empathy” in podcast

University of Georgia School of Law Professor Thomas Kadri joined a recent episode of the “Talking Research” podcast to talk about his research on digital abuse and his article “Networks of Empathy,” just published at Utah Law Review.

The podcast, hosted by India-based Asmita Sood, features interviews with researchers from around the world who study sexual violence across disciplines, with the aim of making academic knowledge more accessible to the public.

Kadri’s interview focused on the challenges of digital abuse and how people are increasingly using networked technologies to engage in harassment, stalking, privacy invasions, and surveillance. He discussed how technology companies should be more mindful of how their platforms facilitate digital abuse, urging decisionmakers at these companies to exhibit empathy toward abuse victims through design and policy choices.

With digital abuse on the rise globally, Kadri’s research explores how extralegal efforts can supplement laws and encourage their enforcement. In his article and this podcast, Kadri embraces a feminist perspective that urges people, and especially men, to speak out against digital abuse in an effort to shift social norms, challenge pernicious stereotypes, and help victims across gender and sexuality spectrums. In this same spirit, Kadri has also encouraged technology companies to hire and consult diversely, including by listening to voices from marginalized groups and people in the Global South who have often been ignored or undervalued by those with power in Silicon Valley.

The podcast episode is available here; Kadri’s article here.

Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner presents to International Monetary Fund on corporations and sustainability

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently presented “The Corporation as Technology: Re-Calibrating Corporate Governance for a Sustainable Future” to the International Monetary Fund, a 75-year-old organization of 189 countries that, operating within the United Nations system, works to “foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”

Bruner’s online presentation was organized by the IMF Legal Department and moderated by Rhoda Weeks-Brown, Director of the Legal Department and the IMF’s General Counsel.  Attendees included staff lawyers and economists from across the IMF.

His talk was based on the book that he is currently writing, which is due to be published by Oxford University Press next year.

Delivering prestigious Gresham College Fulbright Lecture in London, Georgia Law Professor Lori Ringhand analyzes laws regulating online election campaign spending in US and UK

Pleased today to welcome back Lori A. Ringhand, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, and, this Spring 2019 semester, a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In connection with her US-UK Fulbright award, Professor Ringhand gave a prestigious lecture this past Tuesday, April 2, in London. Her account of that lecture – available on video – is below.

I recently had the pleasure of delivering the Gresham College Fulbright Lecture at the Museum of London. Gresham College has been offering free public lectures to residents of London for more than 400 years, and has been offering Fulbright lectures in partnership with the US/UK Fulbright Commission for decades.  Recent Gresham lecturers include eminent public law scholar Vernon Bogdanor,  historian and author Timothy Garton Ash, and current Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

My lecture focused on the challenges faced by lawmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom as they try to ensure that campaign finance laws remain relevant in the age of widespread online electioneering. As both nations have discovered, our existing regimes are not built for a world in which political advertising spreads, rapidly, organically, and often anonymously, through online social media platforms.

Regulators in the US and the UK nonetheless rarely look to each other’s experiences to inform their own thinking in this complex area. The election law systems of each country are seen as so fundamentally different that comparative consideration seems pointless.

As I explained in my Gresham Lecture, I disagree.

The differences in regulatory approaches certainly are real, and significant:

  • In the UK, political spending is limited, and most of it runs through political parties and regulated third-party campaigners, with outside or unregulated groups historically playing little role.
  • In the US, in contrast, political spending is increasingly dominated by outside groups, which can both raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, often entirely outside of the federal regulatory system.

But in regard to regulating online election activity, the similarities between the two nations are much more meaningful than the differences. As I laid out in the talk, the regulatory challenges presented by online electioneering difficult in both principle and practice, but they are fundamentally the same in each country. Consequently, there is a great deal we can learn from each other in this area.

I hope my lecture helps us take a necessary first step in that direction.