05:33 PM Jacelyn Chan (Head, Knowledge Management & Training, Drew & Napier LLC)

    Global Technology Law Conference 2015: The Future of Money and Data


    The “Global Technology Law Conference 2015: The Future of Money and Data”, which was organised by the Singapore Academy of Law, was held on 29 and 30 June 2015.

    The focus of the conference was on international commercial law and technology. The first day of the conference addressed the issue of the cross border flow of funds and the second day of the conference dealt with the cross border flow of data. 

    The Honourable Justice Lee Seiu Kin delivered both the Welcome and the Closing addresses for the conference.  The conference programme also featured keynote speeches by Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Dr Yeo Boon Lock, Senior Engineering Director of Google Inc.  The subject of Mr Ravi Menon’s keynote address, which was delivered on the first day of the conference, was “A Smart Financial Centre”, while Dr Yeo Boon Lock addressed the topic of “Data.Driven.Innovation” in his keynote address, which was delivered on the second day of the conference.

    Apart from the keynote speeches, the conference programme included plenary sessions and panel discussions delivered by business experts, legal practitioners, judicial members, policy makers and academics.

    This report sets out a brief summary of the second day of the conference, which I attended.

    Day 2

    The second day of the conference started off with a keynote address by Dr Yeo Boon Lock, Senior Engineering Director of Google Inc.  Dr Yeo’s keynote address touched on data driven innovation in startups, government and in the information technology industry, which has resulted in innovative solutions in the areas of email security, cloud storage, machine learning and speech recognition.

    This was followed by a plenary session conducted by Professor Ian Walden, Head, Institute of Computer and Communications Law, Queen Mary University of London on “The Internet of Things”.  Professor Walden raised interesting questions about contract law and the Internet of Things, and highlighted the fact that contracts are becoming more difficult to understand with the different layers of contracts involved and the conflicting definitions of the terms used in each of these contracts.  Such “layered ‘legals’” include the terms of service (for websites and mobile applications), the end user license agreement (for software), sales terms (for hardware), privacy statement (in relation to the use of the devices), website privacy policy (for monitoring and recording data and access to the user’s accounts).  

    Professor Walden used the case study of Nest, a home automation producer of programmable, self-learning, sensor-driven, wifi enabled thermostats, smoke detectors and other security systems, to illustrate the difficulty with layers of contracts involved in the Nest ecosystem and the definition of “product”, which he suggested should be viewed as an inseparable mix of hardware, software and services / applications, rather than the hardware or the software alone.  Professor Walden also suggested that some issues that the Internet of Things may give rise to in the future is the possibility of regulatory and judicial intervention concerning the provisions in contracts as well as the need for the protection of and consent to the disclosure and/or use of personal data stored and collected by the individual devices. In the future, public law may need to intervene to protect consumers when they opt out of services, but are left with a device that they own. "Disconnected stuff" should continue to provide access to a minimum level of service, whether online or within the device itself, since the consumer still owns the hardware.

    Following from lunch, there was a panel discussion on the topic of "Intellectual Property Issues in the Internet of Things and Big Data"  involving various intellectual property heavyweights, including Dr Stanley Lai SC, Professor Tanya Aplin, Professor Paul Goldstein, Judicial Commissioner George Wei and Ms Corinne Tan, Head of Legal, Google Southeast Asia.

    Dr Stanley Lai SC highlighted the 3 Vs of Big Data - Volume, Variety and Velocity and the corresponding impact that this might have on data privacy laws, confidentiality, M&A transactions and the possibility of big data liability if the Board of Directors or management fails to act on predictive data that it has received in a timely manner.

    Professors Tanya Aplin and Paul Goldstein, along with Judicial Commissioner George Wei, discussed the EU Sui Generis Database regime.  The rationale of the EU Database regime is to firstly clarify that copyright was limited to the original selection or arrangement of the contents of a database and introduce a sui generis right of protection for any investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of a database.  Judicial Commissioner George Wei highlighted the strengths of the EU Database right, which include the fact that it is a property right that can be assigned and licensed (like copyright) and that protection can be very long lasting and potentially indefinite and posed a thought-provoking question about whether Singapore required a similar database right in light of big data.

    This was followed by a judicial panel discussion on Data Protection and Data Analytics in Discovery.  The judicial panel was composed of Justice David Harvey, District Court of New Zealand, Justice Andrew Peck, United States District Court and Justice Lee Seiu Kin, Supreme Court of Singapore and was chaired by Chris Dale, who runs the e-Disclosure Information Project.  One of the many issues the panel discussed was the rise of computer-assisted coding /predictive coding and whether this would be an accepted replacement for manual document review and the use of keyword searches.  Justice Andrew Peck suggested that predictive coding should be used if it will save the parties time and costs.  It was also informative to hear Justice David Harvey discuss the various electronic discovery regimes in the Asia-Pacific region and the different approaches to electronic discovery in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

    Justice Lee Seiu Kin delivered the closing address at the end of Day 2 of the conference. One of the issues Justice Lee highlighted in his closing address is the concern over privacy and the security of data as it flows through the Internet. Although service providers are aware that privacy is key to the success of online services like Facebook and an essential ingredient of success of social media, Justice Lee suggested that we now have a more enlightened view of data privacy, which does not involve locking data away but rather puts control into the hands of the users since data is the lifeblood of the information economy.


    The Global Technology Law Conference 2015 certainly threw up a number of thought provoking issues ranging from the challenges that financial technology or "FinTech" pose to existing regulatory regimes to data driven technology and challenges posed by the layering of contracts and the Internet of Things.

    We certainly look forward to the next instalment in the Global Technology Law Conference series. 

    * This blog entry may be cited as Jacelyn Chan, "Global Technology Law Conference 2015: The Future of Money and Data", Singapore Law Blog (29 July 2015) (

    ** A PDF version of this entry may be downloaded here

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