Kickstarting Reconnection: An Approach to Legal Problems Arising from Emerging Technologies

38 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2016 Last revised: 16 Feb 2018

Date Written: September 1, 2016


A new model, or ‘third wave’, of computing is emerging, based on the widespread use of processors with data handling and communications capabilities embedded in a variety of objects and environments that were not previously computerised. Various terms have been used to describe this third wave, including ‘ubiquitous’ and ‘pervasive’ computing, ‘ambient intelligence’, the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘eObjects’. With the socio-technical change brought about by this third wave comes the possibility of a disconnection between the law and the new things, activities, and relationships enabled by this new model of computing. This disconnection may lead to legal problems of uncertainty, under- or over-inclusiveness of conduct in existing law, obsolescence, or the complete absence of laws regulating new behaviour. Early and rigorous identification and categorisation of legal problems is crucial for emerging technologies, to assist in avoiding two problems: the first being the stifling of beneficial innovation by over-regulation, the second the cementing of socially undesirable outcomes when vested interests are left too long unchecked. Although the technologies in the third wave are diverse, common attributes can be identified, and from examination of these attributes significant innovations are revealed. This paper examines these innovations to assist in identifying legal problems arising from the third wave.

While privacy and data protection issues have unsurprisingly dominated the scholarly and popular literature on the third wave, this article shows that legal problems extend well beyond these concerns. It uncovers a diversity of legal problems in areas including product liability, anti-hacking legislation, consumer protection, contract, and intellectual property. It does not attempt to uncover all legal problems that might arise, but instead provides a roadmap to further research in this area.

Keywords: eObjects, Internet of Things, ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, ambient intelligence, Internet law, technology regulation, cybersecurity, privacy, consumer law, contract

JEL Classification: K00, K20

Suggested Citation

Manwaring, Kayleen, Kickstarting Reconnection: An Approach to Legal Problems Arising from Emerging Technologies (September 1, 2016). Deakin Law Review, Vol. 22, 2017: 53-84, Available at SSRN:

Kayleen Manwaring (Contact Author)

UNSW Law & Justice ( email )

High St
Sydney, 2052

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