06 Feb Tech + Law = Data Privacy Legal Hackathon

At the intersection of tech and law is a niche where you’ll find a community known as legal hackers — collaborative, local, with their origin tracing back to Brooklyn Law School, yet whose existence and relevance can be attributed to global vision.

“We are lawyers and people knowledgeable about regulatory and policy issues, and together with technology, discuss alternative ways to solve problems,” explained Phil Weiss, a Brooklyn Law alum who serves as director of technology of the New York Legal Hackers. “We build the community and we get the discussion going through monthly meetups.”

New York Legal Hacker’s purpose is to explore creative and collaborative ways to use technology to solve common legal issues. In 2011, a legislation called the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) in Congress was voted on. If passed, it would have given copyright holders and the federal government the power to take down domains accused of containing pirated material, with little judicial process. Outcry from Internet users not only prompted Congress to table the legislation, but it also galvanized a group of Brooklyn Law School students and faculty to action.

BLIP 2012 SummerBy April 2012 the community of Legal Hackers was born, supported by the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic (known as BLIP Clinic). The legal hackers facilitate meetups, relevant discussions, and hackathons, assembling to discuss anything from the implications of public WiFi policy and dispute resolution to most recently, the phenomena of revenge porn.

The latest of those events is the Data Privacy Legal Hackathon, which will take place February 8th and 9th with outposts in Brooklyn, London, and San Francisco. The Brooklyn venue will take place at the newly-opened Made in NY Media Center by IFP, in the heart of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. All participants must create a technology-enabled tool that addresses a common legal problem in the field of data privacy in 24 hours. Judges and speakers at the Brooklyn location include representatives from Brooklyn Law School, AppNexus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, New York University, and Online Trust Alliance.

“The main reason that we targeted data privacy is because this was such a monumental year in the field with NSA talks,” said Weiss who is also an alumnus of Brooklyn Law School. “And despite this, we don’t have a clear uniform legislation. We don’t have the same type of system that other countries may have, or anything remotely.”

The legal hackathon further serves as an opportunity to not only unify the legal and tech sectors, but also to bring together ideas from across geographical boundaries.

“This particular hackathon is our first to link American legal hackers with European legal hackers to create new approaches to problem solving by uniting different perspectives and starting points,” said Professor Jonathan Askin, founder and director of BLIP Clinic. “Our objective is to bring together lawyers and technologists, policy advocates, and innovators with the conviction that when different modes of thinking share the same space, great ideas emerge.”

To learn more or sign up to participate in the data privacy legal hackathon, click here.