Robot Lawyers: Automating Legal Compliance for Transferring Private Data

  • Starts: 12:30 pm on Monday, May 14, 2018
  • Ends: 2:00 pm on Monday, May 14, 2018
Legal and regulatory requirements governing the collection, use, and sharing of personal data are complex and often not very well understood by the stakeholders who interact with a data repository. The vast majority of data contributors, users, and curators have little expertise in the laws and best practices of data privacy and security. Determining what data a repository may accept, under what conditions data may be retained, how a recipient may use released data, and how these restrictions should be reflected in a data sharing license typically requires lengthy negotiation and advice from legal counsel.

There is no common set of licensing agreements shared across institutions and regulatory regimes, and agreements are not easily tailored to a specific data transfer. Current approaches to drafting data use agreements typically require significant investments of time and effort by legal counsel for each individual data transfer. As a consequence, institutions tend to duplicate effort by developing variations of agreements for identical uses, or they draft licenses that are too generic and fail to accurately capture all of the specific requirements that are applicable to a data transfer.

In this talk, Harvard Prof. Stephen Chong and Harvard Berkman Center's Alexandra Wood will present work-in-progress on expert system support to automate data deposit and release decisions within a repository, and generate custom license agreements for those data transfers. They formalize the privacy-relevant aspects of selected statutes, regulations, and best practices, supported by an analysis documented in legal memoranda. They then use this formalization to automate actions within repository systems including automatic generation of data licenses. This enables appropriate decisions and accurate licenses, while removing the bottleneck of human effort per data transfer. Their system will enable legal professionals to evaluate the legal reasoning and interpretation embodied in the formalization, and the specific rationale underlying a decision to accept or release a particular dataset or generate a particular license.

Refreshments provided. Please RSVP to
BU School of Law (Room 203), 765 Commonwealth Avenue