The Design Turn in Law and Dr Lee Andrew Bygrave

The Design Turn in Law: A Sensible Answer to Regulatory Failure?

Start Date
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Online event

Join the UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation online for The Design Turn in Law: A Sensible Answer to Regulatory Failure? with Dr Lee Andrew Bygrave (University of Oslo) on Wednesday 2 November, from 4pm - 5pm.

In recent years, the concept of design has become increasingly prominent in law and public policy discourse. This trend is particularly pronounced in European legislative instruments which flag various 'by design' mantras, including 'data protection by design', 'privacy by design' and 'security by design". Locally, we see regulatory agencies flagging similar mantras, such as 'safety by design' and 'open by design'. However, authoritative guidance on the meaning and weight of these norms remains scant, and critical legal scholarship on point is still in its infancy. What are the catalysts of the design turn in law? What is its agenda? Is it just a passing fad or a more permanent development?

These are some of the questions that the lecture seeks to answer. It pays special attention to the new European rules on 'security by design' which, in the wake of the Optus data breach, ought to have a heightened resonance locally. The central argument advanced in the lecture is that the design turn is an intuitively sensible response to the frequent failure of 'law in books' to gain widespread practical traction, particularly in technology development. Yet, the rollout of design-focused rules in law and public policy discourse ought not to be regarded as a 'silver bullet' solution to regulatory failure: real-world design processes are complicated and frequently dogged by conflict and poor communication between the involved actors. These challenges ought to be kept in mind when law makers and others invoke 'by design' mantras.

About our speaker

Dr. Lee A. Bygrave is full professor at the Department of Private Law, University of Oslo, where he is Director of the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law. He has functioned as expert advisor on technology regulation for numerous organisations, including the Nordic Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and the Norwegian government. Lee has published extensively within the fields of privacy and data protection, cybersecurity and governance of critical internet infrastructure. An important strand of his recent research concerns the growing popularity and significance of design-focused rules in legal frameworks.

If you have any questions or queries related to this online event, please contact the event organiser, UNSW Allens Hub Administrator, Amy Gardner via allenshub[at]