21. January 2022

Smart consumer laws for smart technologies Smart consumer laws for smart technologies

German Research Foundation funds jurisprudential cooperation project with participation of the University of Bonn

Smartphones, tablets and wearables that measure step counts or calorie consumption, for example, have become an integral part of many people's everyday lives. All these devices are part of the Internet of Things - a socio-technological reality that is increasingly becoming the focus of legislation. In a new project, researchers from the Universities of Bonn, Osnabrück, Stirling and Warwick (both UK) investigate how consumers can be better protected when using smart devices. The project, which has been described by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as "world leading", is scheduled to run for three years and has a total funding volume of around 650,000 euros.

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Who is liable for damage caused by smart technologies, for example, for data loss due to hacker attacks, unwanted invasions of privacy or material damage? How can we counteract the tendency for devices to be rendered inoperable after a certain time so that consumers buy something new? How should personalizations of the devices be reacted to, how should the danger of manipulation be countered? The researchers want to answer these and other questions.

The project is aimed at comparing the laws of Germany and the United Kingdom. "In this way, we want to identify opportunities to learn from each other's legal systems and initiate a joint learning process," says Prof. Dr. Louisa Specht-Riemenschneider from the University of Bonn. Together with Prof. Dr. Christoph Busch from the University of Osnabrück, she is investigating the German legal system, while her British colleagues Prof. Dr. Guido Noto La Diega from the University of Stirling and Prof. Dr. Christian Twigg-Flesner from the University of Warwick are examining the British situation.

The funding line is a cooperation between the German Research Foundation and the British Arts and Humanities Research Council. In the current third round, 19 world-leading research collaborations have been selected. Among them, the project "From Smart Technologies to Smart Consumer Laws" is the only legal science project to be funded.

The project is thematically linked to the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals & Societies" as well as the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn. Specht-Riemenschneider is a member of both networks.

Prof. Dr. Louisa Specht-Riemenschneider
Chair of Civil Law, Information and Data Law, University of Bonn
Phone: +49 228 734240
Email: sekretariat.specht@jura.uni-bonn.de

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