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Posted May 9, 2018

Data Protection – a hot LLM topic

Data protection and privacy rulesData protection and privacy rules and regulations have taken up a lot of the news recently with social media networks coming under pressure to ensure that personal data of online users are protected. Several countries have started to scrutinise their own laws and procedures in the wake of public pressure to ensure that citizens’ rights are safeguarded making it a sought-after topic for lawyers and law students to study and explore!

Moreover, the new EU data protection regime – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – comes into force on 25 May 2018 and there may be important questions that lawyers and governments could be faced with.

Opportunities for work, study and research

Data Protection Law controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses and the government.  Whether it is computer and communications law or international commercial law, data protection is a key concept that is found in all these specialisations.

Given the recent discussions and on going investigations of tech companies on their use of personal user data, it has become very important to understand how this can affect our lives. There are tremendous opportunities for practical and research skills to develop around the world of data protection and privacy laws. Some of those areas are:

  • Representing interests of tech companies, stakeholders affected by these issues.
  • Advancement of legal research to understand the impact of policy making and balancing interests with competing, personal, commercial and the wider public interests.
  • Legal advice on data protection compliance and risk assessments, privacy policies, etc.
  • Developing government regulation on policies and procedures.

LLM courses offering data protection and privacy

Some of the popular LLMs today that offer topics concerned with data protection law and privacy are:

Essentially these specialisms will cover legal regimes relating to privacy, freedom of information and data protection. Some of the learning outcomes from the topic include: Understanding rights and obligations arising under data protection legislation, when information should and should not be recorded or shared, implications for private, public and corporate interests or the extent to which information sharing should be permissible, etc. Some law schools are even offering Data Law as a specialism in itself, for example the newly launched Data Law specialism at the Institute of European Studies.

Future prospects in this field

  • A course that includes information governance and security and the legislation governing data protection can benefit wide range of individuals and organisations.
  • Professionals with legal qualifications could also apply to work as data protection officers, information rights practitioners, governance managers and those charged with records management, data security, data handling and issues of data sharing. 
  • A masters degree can act as a stepping stone to enhance one’s academic and professional development in areas of Intellectual property, commerce, trade or media. 
  • The advantage of the topic is that it can also be analysed from a cross-border approach. LLM specialisms would usually adopt an international approach and contributions from students will only add value to the discussions.
  • By choosing the relevant specialism you will have a better understanding of the underlying principles of data protection and be in a position to research on the legal nuances governing data transfers.

With many opportunities at the national, regional and global level, you may want to start considering these topics in your specialism choices as part of your LLM course.

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