Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Contact Details

Dr Subhajit Basu's Publications


  • Basu S, Munns C, Privacy and Healthcare Data: Choice of Control to Choice and Control (Routledge Ashgate, 2015)

    Author URL [www.routledge.com]

    In order for the information society to realise its full potential, personal data has to be disclosed, used and often shared. This book explores the disclosure and sharing of data within the area of healthcare. Including an overview of how health information is currently managed, the authors argue that with changes in modern society, the idea of personal relationships with a local GP who solely holds and controls your health records is becoming rapidly outdated. The authors aim to encourage and empower patients to make informed choices about sharing their health data. They do this by developing a three-stage theoretical model for change to the roles of the NHS and the individual. The study generates debate to stimulate and inspire new models and policy, and to provoke new visions for the sharing of healthcare data. Such discussion is framed through an exploration of the changing concept of 'privacy' and 'patient control' in healthcare information management. The volume draws on best practices from Europe and the USA and combines these to form a suggested vision for the UK as an early adopter of change. The volume will be essential reading for academics in the field of privacy and data protection, as well as healthcare and informatics professionals across different jurisdictions.

  • Basu S, Global Perspectives on E-Commerce Taxation Law, Markets and the Law (Ashgate, 2007), 1-344

    Author URL [works.bepress.com]

    It is trite, but true, that taxation of e-commerce is a major concern for international agencies and tax authorities worldwide. In its most advanced form e-commerce allows unidentified purchasers to pay obscure vendors, in ‘electronic cash,’ for products that are often goods, services, and licenses all rolled into one. A payee may be no more than a computer that can take up `residence’ anywhere at the drop of a hat; national boundaries are of no consequence whatsoever. The book looks at the implications of the growth of e-commerce for domestic and international tax systems. It covers a wide array of activities such as discussions on the basic principles that govern direct and indirect taxes, overview of the technological changes that have brought about e-commerce, a concise explanation of how and what happens when e-commerce is conducted, examination of the ways in which businesses are using the new technology in conducting their everyday activities, discussion of the application of existing tax principles to e-commerce, exploration of questions and problems raised by applying tax rules that evolved before e-commerce, and observations and suggestions for a variety of approaches to international tax problems resulting from e-commerce and the associated benefits and problems, since the implications of e-commerce vary from industry to industry, it focus on the broader issues. This book also analyses a number of fast-moving trends in the behaviour of national taxation authorities, web-based companies, certain low-tax (or no-tax) jurisdictions, and international organizations that have significant bearing on the future development of the taxation of e-commerce principally influence of economic organisations like OECD, WTO and EU, in particular the influential OECD ongoing study and the latest and most up to date development in OECD and European Community. It examines how US domestic and international tax rules are being interpreted and adopted in the effort to accommodate e-commerce. How VAT rules in EU countries and other jurisdictions are being restructured. It looks into the issues of revenue loss, specifically into the danger of revenue loss for developing countries. The book also offer solutions and future trends in this field.

Journal articles

  • Munns C, Basu S, ‘The NHS information revolution: 'choice of control' to 'choice' and 'control’, International Review of Law, Computers and Technology, 27.1-2 (2013), 124-160
    DOI: 10.1080/13600869.2013.764132

    This paper provides a novel and critical analysis of the necessary and important balance between 'individual privacy' and 'collective transparency'. We suggest that the onset of the Information Revolution has created a dilemma for the National Health Service (NHS) in terms of how it addresses its obligation to use information to improve best practice in healthcare for society ('collective transparency') whilst also keeping sensitive personal information confidential ('individual privacy'). There is clearly a need to consider both whether the NHS is balancing this critically important informational relationship and whether its approach is fit for purpose. We argue that the NHS's 'proxy-individual' information guardian role could inadvertently mask individuals' intended roles, effectively circumventing autonomy-based laws by limiting the power of individuals to be autonomous. In this article we have identified three issues-first the prevailing 'Mindset' (the 'M') of 'privacy', which is viewed as individualistic, resulting in an overpowering concept of confidentiality; second, the quality and control of Information (the first 'I'); and third, the concept of innovation (the second 'i'), which is being used as a 'solution' rather than a vehicle for transparency. Indeed, transparency is our target of 'best practice,' and we suggest that individual privacy and collective transparency are best embedded within a complementary privacy framework that offers a better fit than the current split of control between the roles of the NHS and the roles of the individual. It is suggested that when facilitated by transparency, 'control' and 'privacy' form a continuum, aligning through the desire for choice. Therefore, the choice of control could facilitate control and choice. Together, they could replace the concept of privacy by empowering 'informed patients' to support the NHS's 'No decision about me, without me' pledge. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

  • Basu S, ‘Stalking the Stranger in Web 2.0: A Contemporary Regulatory Analysis’, European Journal of Law and Technology, 3.2 (2012), 1-36

    Author URL [ejlt.org]

    In this article, a virtual, community-based concept of regulation is developed to regulate cyberstalking in Web 2.0. Such a concept offers a novel approach based on three elements fundamental to the discussion of regulation of cyberstalking: (1) the differences between physical stalking and cyberstalking; (2) the character of a virtual community and the effects of social interactions; and (3) the scope of experience and reality. This formulation is based on an expansive view of regulation and “normativity” of a virtual community. The author advocates the formation of codes of conduct based on the “rights and responsibilities” discourse, termed here as “protocols,” which reflect optimal sociological conceptions. The philosophical underpinning of protocols recognises the value of community, essentially the connection between individuals and their community. As such, these protocols will assist in the formation of private laws that are practical and acceptable within the virtual community. The aim of this concept of regulation is to ensure that cyberspace remains a lawful and socially useful space.

  • Basu S, ‘Privacy Protection: A Tale of Two Cultures’, Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology, 6.1 (2012), 1-34

    The paper provides a novel and critical analysis of privacy as an instrumental notion within social and cultural contexts. The argument suggests there is much utility in a novel multiple-perspective approach to the study of privacy in a socio-legal context. It questions our assumptions about privacy by looking to a differing privacy culture - that of the India. It examines the Indian perception of privacy based on India's cultural values and offers an explanation for why India's concept of privacy is beyond the often dominated public-private dichotomy and why it has implicitly or explicitly affected the agenda for privacy theory by placing some issues in the limelight while leaving others backstage. The importance of the argument is due to its critical assessment of the current European approach (from the EC, ECJ and ECHR) where privacy is regarded as an inalienable right with a concrete psychological foundation. I argue that privacy interests are far more extensive and deeper than the European definition which can at best capture only some of the issues which require elucidation when we litigate over privacy.

  • Basu S, Duffy J, Pearson K, ‘Older people and legal advice – the need for joined up and creative approaches’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 34.1 (2012), 31-37
    DOI: 10.1080/09649069.2012.675463, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74421/

    This paper reports the findings from research conducted with older people in Northern Ireland which investigated whether their needs for legal information and advice were being met. One of the unique aspects of the research involved investigating the potential of the internet as a possible source for advising older people in relation to legal problems. The findings suggest that on-line legal information may frequently assist older people in identifying potential answers to their legal questions, but may not be an adequate substitute for personal communication and advice. The research also highlights the need for professionals to work together to meet the needs of older persons for legal advice and to safeguard their interests. Such “joined up” approaches are particularly important, for example, at the point of dementia diagnosis, where information sharing between health and social care professionals may significantly promote the legal and welfare interests of the older person at a vulnerable point in their lives. This paper therefore turns to work by university-based legal clinics in the United States, such as the Elder law Clinic at Pennsylvania State University, where social work or health care professionals, lawyers and law students collaborate to support older people in their search for resolution of legal problems.

  • Basu S, Duffy J, ‘Providing Legal Information and Advice to Older People: as much a question of accessibility as affordability’, European Journal of Law and Technology, 1.3 (2010), 1-32
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/43779/

    No continent has as high a proportion of older people as Europe. In this paper, we report the findings of an empirical project examining the legal advice needs of older people. An important element of the project also sought information about the capacity of the internet for meeting the legal advice needs of older people. Overall our findings broadly indicate considerable failings in legal information provision for older people from more traditional advice sources. Whilst we have uncovered some examples of individualised good practice,our research in the main revealed an alarming sense of fear, mistrust, uncertainty and ambivalence among older people towards accessing legal advice. The research was funded by the Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP). We believe our findings have broad implications and applicability across Europe.

  • Basu S, ‘Policy Making, Technology and Privacy in India’, The Indian Journal of Law and Technology, 6.1 (2010), 65-88

    There is a preconceived assumption that privacy laws in India are notoriously weak. This unquestioned assumption is based on a paradigm that does not take into consideration that the conception of privacy in India is influenced by its ‘culture of trust.’ Unfortunately, rather than looking into the specific societal, political and economic factors triggering the controversy, privacy researchers in the West have constantly varied the meaning and extent of the ‘right to privacy’ to bolster their argument. This article offers an explanation for why ‘umbrella’ data privacy legislation similar to the E.U. Data Protection Directive should not be enacted by India. This article further evaluates the argument that one’s private sphere is subjective and depends on one’s culture, environment and economic condition.

  • Basu S, ‘Direct Taxation and E-Commerce: Possibility and Desirability’, International Journal of Innovation in the Digital Economy, 1 (2010), 37-63
    DOI: 10.4018/jide.2010091503

    E-commerce poses significant challenges for existing tax rules. One of the most important effects of e-commerce has been to de-emphasise the significance of the place where economic activity is carried out, which makes it difficult to determine which jurisdiction has the right to tax. It has also blurred the traditional distinction between the form of delivery and the substance of what is delivered. Thus, the specific tax implications of e-commerce and the threat it imposes on the established tax systems can be examined by reference to how much e-commerce tends to disrupt the concepts and principles of direct taxation and international tax treaty rules. This article explores the effect of e-commerce on the principles of direct taxation. The question is should the tax system of the future be developed at a national or an international level?

  • Basu S, ‘International Taxation of E-Commerce: Persistent Problems and Possible Developments’, The Journal of Information, Law and Technology 2008, 1-31

    Author URL [www2.warwick.ac.uk]

  • Basu S, ‘Offshore Technology Outsourcing: Overview of Management and Legal Issues’, Business Process Management Journal, 13.1 (2007), 21-46

  • Basu S, ‘Offshore Outsourcing – How Safe is Your Data Abroad? Overview of Privacy, Data Protection and Security’, Global Jurist Topics, 6.2 (2007), 1-26

    Author URL [www.bepress.com]

  • Basu S, Jones R, ‘Indian Information and Technology Act 2000: A Review of Regulatory Powers under the Act’, International Review of Law Computers and Technology, 19.2 (2005), 209-230

  • Basu S, ‘E-Government and Developing Countries: An Overview’, International Review of Law Computers and Technology, 18.1 (2004), 109-133
    DOI: 10.1080/13600860410001674779

    E‐governance is more than just a government website on the Internet. The strategic objective of e‐governance is to support and simplify governance for all parties; government, citizens and businesses. The use of ICTs can connect all three parties and support processes and activities. In other words, in e‐governance electronic means support and stimulate good governance. Therefore, the objectives of e‐governance are similar to the objectives of good governance. Good governance can be seen as an exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to better manage affairs of a country at all levels. It is not difficult for people in developed countries to imagine a situation in which all interaction with government can be done through one counter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without waiting in lines. However to achieve this same level of efficiency and flexibility for developing countries is going to be difficult. The experience in developed countries shows that this is possible if governments are willing to decentralize responsibilities and processes, and if they start to use electronic means. This paper is going to examine the legal and infrastructure issues related to e‐governance from the perspective of developing countries. Particularly it will examine how far the developing countries have been successful in providing a legal framework.

  • Basu S, ‘To tax or not to tax? That is the question? Overview of Options in Consumption Taxation of E-Commerce’, LAW/TECHNOLOGY, 37.2 (2004)

    Author URL [www2.warwick.ac.uk]

  • Basu S, ‘To tax or not to tax? That is the question? Overview of Options in Consumption Taxation of E-Commerce’, The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT) 2004, 1-26

    Author URL [www2.warwick.ac.uk]

  • Basu S, ‘Implementing E-Commerce Tax Policy’, British Tax Review 2004, 46-69

  • Basu S, ‘Relevance of E-Commerce for Taxation: an Overview’, Global Jurist Topics, 3.3 (2003), 1-40

  • Basu S, Jones R, ‘E-Commerce and the Law: A Review of India’s Information Technology Act, 2000’, Contemporary South Asia, 12.1 (2003), 7-24

  • Basu S, Jones R, ‘Taxation of Electronic Commerce: A Developing Problem’, International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, Volume, 16.1 (2002), 35-52
    DOI: 10.1080/13600860220136093

  • Basu S, ‘VAT on Digital Sales’, The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT) 2002, 1-26

  • Basu S, ‘Human Genome and Patent’, International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 16 (2002), 339-357


  • Basu S, ‘Digital divide, digital ethics, and E-government’, in ICTs in Developing Countries: Research, Practices and Policy Implications ([n.pub.], 2016), 161-169
    DOI: 10.1057/9781137469502_10

    © Bidit Dey, Karim Sorour and Raffaele Filieri 2016.Despite unprecedented increase in overall opulence, the contemporary world denies elementary freedoms to vast numbers - perhaps even the majority - of people. The important issue here is technological progress. Technology's influential relationship with society arguably reaches back to the beginning of human history. With regard to the history of technology, a number of authors believe that the development of human organisation from the Eolithic Age to the Information Age is directly related to the development of technology. As human dependency on technology has evolved, so have attitudes towards technology. In modern times, technology has tacitly been connected to the notion of progress. Arguably, in a global perspective adoption of a particular technology (it could be any technology) is a matter of affluence. Forerunner countries like the United States and western European countries are also leading nations with regard to economic performance. The more developed a country is in economic terms, the more the number of people who can afford and who need to rely on available technology in their daily business. In the last decade, we have seen that the wealthier economies have experienced a shift from industrial goods production to a service economy relying on the creation and processing of information and on knowledge workers who are skilled in the more advanced technology.

  • Basu S, ‘Direct Taxation and E-Commerce: Possibility and Desirability’, in Digital Economy Innovations and Impacts on Society, ed. by Druic E (Information Science Reference, 2012), 26-48

    Digital Economy Innovations and Impacts on Society provides theoretical and practical approaches about digital economy, increasing peoples awareness on what the digital economy is and exactly what competitive advantages exist to provide ...

  • Basu S, ‘Emerging Legal Challenges in Offshore Outsourcing of IT-Enables Services’, in IT Outsourcing: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, ed. by Amant KS, 1 (Business Science Reference, 2009), 4, 1073-1097

  • Basu S, Jones R, ‘Regulating Cyberstalking’, in Crimes of the Internet, ed. by Schmalleger F and Pittaro M, 1 (USA: Prentice Hall, 2008), 1, 141-165

  • Basu S, ‘Collection of Consumption Taxation in an E-Commerce Environment’, in E-Taxation: State & Perspectives: Scientific Basis, Implementation Strategies, Good Practice Examples, ed. by Makolm J and Orthofer G, Informatics, 1 (Trauner: [n.pub.] 2007), 21, 250-264

  • Basu S, ‘E-government and Developing Countries: Role of Technology and Law’, in Gobierno, derecho y tecnología: las actividades de los poderes públicos, ed. by Galindo F (Spain: [n.pub.] 2006), 227-267

  • Basu S, Pai A, ‘Emerging Legal Challenges in Offshore Outsourcing of IT-Enables Services’, in Outsourcing and Offshoring in The 21st Century: A Socio-Economic Perspective, ed. by Kehal H and Singh V (USA: Idea Group Publishing, 2006), 403-431

  • Basu S, ‘European VAT on Digital Sales’, in Techno-Legal Aspect of Information Society and New Economy: An Overview, Information Society, ed. by Mendez-Vilas and others, 1 (Formatex, 2003), 359-375

Conference papers

  • Basu S, ‘Privacy in Public: “Google Glass” and “Creepshots’ BILETA: 29th Annual Conference, UEA. Norwich., 14/04/2014 - 16/04/2014

    This article looks at two interrelated issues that we will be confronting since the invention of “Google Glass”. First, the development of a particular technology that is inevitable and sometimes autonomous and, second, potential victims of that innovation. I argue that the expansion of a technology like “Google Glass”, in particular the use of this technology for taking “creepshots”, blurs the line between what is considered public and private. “Creepshots” are covertly taken sexually indicative photographs, mostly of women, which are posted online without consent. In fact, it is the lack of consent that is the crucial component for a photograph to be classified as a “creep shot”. Vint Cerf argues that “Google Glass” provides ‘an opportunity to experiment with what happens when you allow a computer to become part of your sensory environment. It sees and hears what you see and hear and it can apply its power and the power of the Internet to make use of information in context.’ In any case a simple act of taking photographs of an individual in a public street (which can be done with a wink while using “Google Glass”) will not by itself engage Article 8(1) of ECHR unless there are aggravating factors. It is a trite law to state that the conception of “privacy in public” is amorphous and it is based on a traditional understanding of “reasonable expectation” of privacy. However, the nature of the exposure due to “Google Glass” not only invades an individual’s expectation of privacy, but it also calls into question the traditional definition of privacy and interpretation of that definition. Nevertheless, question also arises as to whether the law protects the “sexualisation” of a female body or part of a body taken out of context. This article further analyses the various challenges for protecting “privacy in public” because of innovations like “Google Glass” and will map out future theoretical directions.

  • Pearson K, Basu S, Duffy J, ‘What Prospective Clients Don’t Know about Elder Law’ Elder Law Section of the state-wide Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA., 20/11/2012

  • Pearson K, Duffy J, Basu S, ‘Crossing Borders and Barriers: How Older Adults Access Legal Advice and Information for Effective Justice’ Mid-Atlantic Law and Society Association, Drexel University, Earle Mack School of Law, Philadelphia, PA, 16/10/2012

  • Basu S, ‘E-commerce Taxation doesn’t need to be Taxing?’ BILETA 2011: 26th Annual Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University. Apr. 2011, 12/04/2011

    International direct taxation is also both excruciatingly complex and fundamentally arbitrary. It is thus in double trouble- a potential victim of irrationality and technological advancement. Although the path of international direct taxation law is directed by three main drivers: tax sovereignty concerns, practical administrative concerns, and guiding international tax principles , but there are the five strategic tax rules that apply to international transactions which are similar in most of the countries. In this article I will analyse the challenges posed by the e-commerce to traditional source- and residence-based taxation systems (both legal and administrative).

  • Basu S, ‘I Can Stalk You”: Stalking the Stranger in Web 2.0’ Human Rights in the Digital Era, University of Leeds. Sep. 2011., 21/09/2011

    ‘When you're growing up your parents tell you not to talk to strangers, but the whole point of the Internet is to talk to strangers.’ The new social technologies have altered the underlying architecture of social interaction and information distribution. The explosion of Web 2.0 Social software platforms such as “Facebook”, “Bebo”, “MySpace” and “geolocative” social networking tools like “Foursquare” has resulted in commoditization of social relations. On the one hand people are encouraged to post their personal profiles, interests, photos, videos and online diaries with their thoughts and desires that they would otherwise keep secret, on the other hand by providing insight into their life, sometimes to absolute strangers, the possibility of becoming a victim of cyberstalking has also increased. In a way the social networking websites have the ability to promote deviant behaviour that might have remained simply the distorted musings of an imaginative mind! The question is how do we regulate such behaviour? (The title of this presentation is based on the website: “icanstalku”. The website raises awareness about inadvertent information sharing.)

  • Basu S, Duffy J, ‘From isolation to inclusion: An exploratory study in providing online legal advice for older people’ 25th Annual BILETA Conference, Vienna, Austria, 28/03/2010 - 30/03/2010

    We report the findings of an empirical project on access to legal advice for older people in Northern Ireland, the findings from which have wider applicability. In this research, we found that there are a range of issues preventing older people from accessing proper legal advice.

  • Basu S, ‘Where Evil Dare!’ SLS Conference, Southampton, 13/09/2010 - 16/09/2010

    This article will critically argue that the regulation of behaviour in cyberspace is not simply the imposition through a top down system from regulator to regulated, a number of actors and elements come into play. In doing so, it will analyse the boundaries between public and private law, between national and international law and between state law and self regulation, and review whether the traditional positivist methodology of law, within these boundaries offers an adequate intellectual framework in which to consider the nature and form of regulation in cyberspace. Cyberspace is not a static regulatory universe into which an intervention can be made. Any response must acknowledge cyberspace’s dynamic, complex and peculiar nature, particularly its veil of anonymity and consequential challenges posed by Web v.2 and Web v.3. Hence, through the use of the example of cyber-stalking this article will consider the differences between offline and cyber-stalking, and review how these differences affect the nature of the regulation of such activities. These characteristics and differences should inform the debate about the nature and form of regulation of stalking in cyberspace and mean that it is not simply a question of transferring behaviours across from the physical world, communities in cyberspace are different and so is their behaviour. The explosion of social networking sites that encourage the posting of personal profiles, interests, blogs, photos, videos and online diaries and to the increased use of intelligent systems that enable much more sophisticated data-mining and machine learning means that within such environments which actively encourage users to share personal information and with tools that enable the capture and analysis of such data the opportunity and ability to cyber-stalk is greatly increased. Finally, the article will consider if any of the methodologies offered by authors such as Bert-Jaap Koops et al, Biegel and Murray could be adopted to meet the particular challenges of cyberstalking.

  • Basu S, ‘Digital Ethics in Bridging Digital Divide’ 24th Annual BILETA Conference: "To Infinity and Beyond: Law and Technology in Harmony?", . Department of Law, University of Winchester. Apr. 2009, 15/04/2009

    The digital divide disempowers, discriminates, and generates dependency. The question is how to deal with the problem of the digital divide? The politically intriguing idea of implementing a generic and adoptable model for ‘bridging digital divide’ clashes with the understanding that each country and region has its own peculiarities, constitution, and legal and political framework. The idea is simply unrealistic. It is not a matter of imposing legislative measures, strict regulations or empowering some controlling organization. One of the objectives at the World Summit on the Information Society was to build a global consensus around a core ethical values and principles for information society. Genetics has bio-ethics; doesn't wisdom also demand that we develop digital-ethics? ICT has already posed fundamental ethical problems, whose complexity and global dimensions are rapidly evolving. Technologies are not only tools, but also vehicles of affordances, values and interpretations of the surrounding reality, like hermeneutic devices. The objective is to formulate universally recognised principles and common ethical standards for bridging digital divide. In this presentation I have far more questions than I have answers. Because, these are the questions, we normally avoid when we discuss about DD. I will not be able to give a list of potential solutions, because I don’t have one. But I will give the reasons why I have the questions. Our information society is creating parallel systems: one for those with income, education and literacy connections, giving plentiful information at low cost and high speed: the other are those without connections, blocked by high barriers of time, cost and uncertainty and dependent upon outdated information. Hence it can be expressed the DD is nothing but a reflection of social divide. The question is what is the best strategy to construct an information society that is ethically sound? Most people have the views that ICT and underlying ideologies are neutral. This Technology has become so much naturalized that it can no longer be viewed as anything other than being useful, even when it has the potential to change profoundly the critical developmental priorities of a country. Investment in ICT will not produce growth in developing countries unless it is supported by complementary policies. ICT for development holds very important promises, yet this is only a belief, and although some do argue that it is quite a credible belief, but still it remains a belief, as we have seen repeatedly from ICT4 Development impact reports. The divide exists because there is an error both in focus and approach as policy makers in this field started from an erroneous approach and continued working with the logical framework of a previous social paradigm, where society never participated in the decision making process. I argue that since the digital divide is a problem affecting individuals rather than pre-established whole societies, solutions can be more effective if they are grassroots-oriented and bottom up? What we need is a more balanced approach between promotions of social goals through devices such as universal service obligations and recognizing country specific needs (greater voice for developing countries in international regulatory agencies). It is more about proposing policies of promoting national e-strategies in developing countries, prioritizing ICT in aid funding, improving connectivity, and building human capacity. In an earlier paper I suggested technological “leapfrogging” will enable the poor to catch up. As latecomers, developing countries can embrace existing technologies developed elsewhere and skip intermediate stages allowing them to save on considerable costs of development. However, now I feel that there is more to this argument: There is a fundamental duality: technology “for development” and technology “in developing” countries. Two streams represent diverse sets of objectives, which are currently being conflated and even used interchangeably. Developing countries needs to promote their own technology. As premature standardization can become impediments to technological innovations in these countries and can be counterproductive. ICT promises to change the world around us, what does that mean? Information society as we understand is dominated by an arguably narrow range of ideological viewpoints. It can cause new forms of colonialism that must be prevented, opposed and ultimately eradicated. But unfortunately what we are witnessing is contrasting notions of cyber colonialism, a colonizing of cultures by a diverse array of western ICT ideologies. We know there is a ‘divide’ because we were told so. The concept of Discourse Analysis of Colonialism first developed in Edward Said’s 1978 work Orientalism. Said argued that the “orient” is constructed by Western discourses as “other”, and represented as primitive, dependent upon Western expertise and in need of being controlled. This is quite analogous to the way developed countries are now dictating and dominating the ‘information society’ with its expertise of ICT in relation to the developing world. It is difficult to deny the role of these cybersuperpowers and control in the creation of a technological “other”. The ‘other’ lacks what is assumed to be the more efficient collection, exchange, and distribution of information to which those with the necessary hardware, software, and technical skills have access. These disparities are far from coincidence and are largely attributed to the unfair international economic system, which, it can be argued, benefits the developed countries at the expense of the less developed countries. We are thinking about bridging the divide but at whose terms? The question is the relationship exploitive where one party likely to be advantaged more than the other as the relationship unfolds? Or is it reciprocal in which each party benefits to a similar degree? How do we determine this? It can be fairly easily demonstrated: If the developing countries continue to depend on the developed countries for expertise and control, can we say that we have managed to bridge the divide? Before the Internet, the global agenda and public debates within territorially defined political spaces were mainly set by Western transnational media agencies. They were tools used by the dominant centres of power to manufacture consent and shape the contours of public ideology for their own interests. In terms of ICT it is again a relationship which many in the developing world realize that they have little options but to utilise the technology from within the operating ethos and intellectual structures fostered mainly by American techno-visionaries. So an uneven relationship exists. Have we superimposed ICT ideologies of west upon the ‘Rest’? As I said before Information society is about individuals (an information only becomes useful and hence valuable if and only if the individual understands that information).So the usefulness and the value is ultimately dependent on what gets disseminated. Paradoxically, across political and cultural contexts abundance of information provided by the Internet has not necessarily created an abundance of usable knowledge. It is clear that the digital divide is a multi-faceted social problem, requiring a multi-faceted intervention. Nearly all related studies agree that the fundamental solution lies beyond a mere consideration of information availability and infrastructure; they call for governments to interfere with the deep-rooted factors which have directly or indirectly caused this situation. The technological power available is enormous. It is also growing relentlessly. Our Moral responsibilities towards the world and future generations are therefore equally enormous. Unfortunately, technological power and moral responsibilities are not necessarily followed by ethical intelligence and wisdom. We are still like children, light-heartedly and dangerously toying with a marvellous universe.

Conference presentations

  • Basu S, Munns C, ‘Information Revolution: “Choice of Control” to “Choice and Control’ BILETA 2012: 'Too many laws, too few examples': Regulation, technology, law & legal education., Northumbria University Law School and Life. Mar. 2012., 13/03/2012

    In this article, we critically analyse whether the ‘privacy framework’ for health records is ‘fit-for-purpose’ for the NHS’s ‘information revolution’ and argue that the NHS’s ‘proxy-individual’ information-guardian role could inadvertently mask individuals’ intended roles, effectively circumventing autonomy-based laws by limiting the power of individuals to be autonomous. We suggest that moving ‘choice of control’ to individuals will render ‘privacy’ redundant whilst validating ‘confidentiality’ via consent from empowered individuals. This power shift would expose the overdue need for options to increase levels of individual ‘control/privacy,’ moving from the NHS’s paternal ‘proxy-individual’ conception of privacy toward optimal ‘sociological’ conceptions –– cited as the ‘real information revolution.’ The article further proposes a three-stage model for altering society’s mindset surrounding privacy, through the NHS’s effective and transparent utilisation of information made available through innovation. The NHS must own, develop and promote technological innovation, ensuring that the right information is available to the right people with the appropriate safeguards in place, alongside transparent justifications for exceptions. Individuals have corresponding rights as information owners to evaluate justifications and actively control information (not just have) access, thus defining ‘privacy’ individually. Technological innovation is presented as the vehicle to create an impartial governance layer, dispersing power and facilitating autonomous decision-making, whilst minimising vulnerabilities via incorporation of the NHS’s preliminary role of transparently justifying exceptions to the ‘collective transparency’ default in order to safeguard and facilitate ‘positive freedoms.’ Thus, individual privacy and collective transparency are embedded within a complementary framework. It is suggested that when facilitated by transparency, ‘control’ and ‘privacy’ form a continuum, aligning through the desire for choice. Therefore, control and choice could replace the ‘privacy’ myth by empowering ‘informed patients’ to support the NHS’s ‘no decision about me without me’ pledge. The views expressed in this presentation/paper are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of the NHS or any other organisation.

  • Basu S, ‘E-Commerce: Taxation without Representation’ Invited workshop on “E-governance and Democracy--Theory and Practice", QUB, Belfast, 30/11/2007 - 30/11/2007 (Accepted)


  • Pearson K, Duffy J, Basu S, International Justice for Older Adults - Crossing Barriers as well as Borders, (CA, USA: Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging, 2013)

  • Basu S, Duffy J, Davey H, Digital Divide, Ageing and Online Legal Advice, (QUB, UK: [n.pub.] 2009), 1-78

    Older people have been perceived as requiring support with regard to legal and soft law advice but they have also been that part of the population which is the least internet enabled. With the development of eGov, it is clear that there are a number of developing issues which merit study in this area. By virtue of their advanced years, older people have greater need of legal advice in areas such as substitute decision-making, wills, care arrangements, and matters relating to health. The study, which this report describes, is the first of its kind to explore the legal needs of older people including marginalised groups and those living in both private accommodation and in residential homes. Furthermore, although the research was carried out in Northern Ireland, the findings have wider application to other national and international contexts. In this research, we interviewed older people, individually and within focus groups, service providers and other relevant stakeholders. We found that there are a range of issues preventing older people from accessing proper legal advice. These include a general reluctance to engage with the legal system and to enforce their rights through legal processes. The most commonly recurring theme throughout the study was that older people were often reluctant to complain about issues affecting them and consequently sought to manage their problems silently on their own. We also uncovered a predominant expression of distrust and scepticism expressed towards lawyers and the legal system, much of which was related to expense and costs. The research would also strongly indicate that the current legal system must accept that older people are often not getting the service they should, at a price that they can afford and that this situation must change. In addition, we found that the development of an on-line tool has potential based on some of the positive comments we received in the focus groups from older people confident in using the internet. The capacity for the internet to provide basic legal information in this way for older people is largely untapped and it would appear that not enough work is being done among older people to generate awareness regarding the use and possible benefits of the internet as a legal tool. There is also a continued need to support older people in key aspects of this such as accessing and acquiring the skill to use technology and addressing their attitudes towards technologies. The implication of the findings from this research indicates that the social policy goals of empowering older people will be increasingly difficult to realize without the improvement in access to legal services more generally.

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