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Paul Bernal

Professor of Information Technology Law | School of Law


His areas of interest are the law of the internet, media law, surveillance, online privacy and social media.







Image for vimeo videos on Dr Paul Bernal on Internet Privacy | UEAImage for vimeo videos on How not to regulate the internet (UEA London Lectures 2020)



Paul Bernal is Associate Professor in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law in the UEA Law School. His areas of interest are the law of the internet, media law, surveillance, online privacy and social media. He has explored a range of issues including (the symptoms of) fake news, online trolls, energy supplier switching online, and automatic voter registration. He has written three books including The Internet Warts and All: Free Speech, Privacy and Truth. He has acted as an expert witness before the UK Parliament on the progression of Investigatory Powers Act (commonly referred to as “the snooper’s charter”). Paul is a member of the Advisory Council for the Open Rights group and for the National Police Chiefs' Council's Independent Digital Ethics Panel for Policing, and he has worked with Index on Censorship.

His first degree was in maths. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant. For over 20 years he worked as an auditor, in finance for big companies in the City. He has done pioneering work in the early days of the internet, including setting up and running the first online real-time education system for children to operate in the UK. He has been a finance director of a charity dealing with mental health and criminal justice. That lead him to the study of human rights law - his PhD at the LSE concerned the interaction between human rights and internet privacy and in particular, the commercial gathering and use of personal data - particularly by organisations like Google and Facebook.

Areas of Expertise

Intellectual PropertyOnline Privacy LawsSocial MediaTechnologyMedia Law


London School of Economics and Political Science

Ph.D., Law


London School of Economics and Political Science

M.Sc., Human Rights


Media Appearances

Facebook and Twitter's Tolerance of Trump is Starting to Shift

Newsweek  online


"I think there are signs that the game is changing a bit, and that it might soon become possible that Donald Trump is held to [similar] standards as the rest of us. Small signs, but signs nonetheless," said Paul Bernal, an associate professor in IT, intellectual property and media law at the U.K.'s UEA School of Law.

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Me at 20: What is the challenge, how can I get involved and which celebrities have done it?

The Independent  online


One Twitter user, however, issued a warning. Paul Bernal, who is a UEA associate professor in law according to his bio, said facial recognition technology made the trend a “biometric data grab”, advancing Twitter’s opportunity to sell user information to companies analysing consumer data. He added: “I’m not suggesting you don’t do it, but it would be better if we do it with our eyes open, understanding what’s happening and what kind of trade-offs are being made.”

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BBC slammed as 'irresponsible' for having Nigel Farage on Newsnight to talk about coronavirus

Evening Standard  online


Paul Bernal, a UEA Associate Professor in Law, added: "The BBC: ‘save us, save us, you’ll miss us when we’re gone’. Also the BBC: ‘I know, let’s put Nigel Farage on Newsnight to talk about the Corona Virus."

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Tennessee Republican Bill Forcing Internet Providers to Block All Porn by Default May Be Unworkable, Expert Says

Newsweek  online


Paul Bernal, an Associate Professor in Information Technology and Media Law in the UEA School of Law, said the Tennessee proposal sounded familiar - and is unlikely to work. "This seems like a fair amount of attempts to regulate the internet - a mix of wishful thinking and woeful misunderstanding," Bernal said. "In the U.K. they've been trying to do something like this for a decade, and there's a good reason they've failed. It's easy to legislate, but all-but-impossible to implement."

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Dozens of PC games drop tracking software after surveillance fears

WIRED UK  online


Players clearly feel that the use of Red Shell in their games is not right. Unfortunately for them, the legality is somewhat debatable. Paul Bernal, a lecturer in information technology, intellectual property and media law in the UEA School of Law, believes that while Red Shell’s activities feel ethically wrong, the law is not as clear, even with the recent passing of GDPR, which is designed to protect a user’s data and privacy.

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What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Internet Privacy?

SAGE Publishing


Privacy on the internet is challenged in a wide variety of ways - from large social media companies, whose entire business models are based on privacy invasion, through the developing technologies of facial recognition, to the desire of governments to monitor our every activity online. But the impact these issues have on our daily lives is often underplayed or misunderstood.

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Fakebook: why Facebook makes the fake news problem inevitable

Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly


The current ‘fake news’ phenomenon is a modern manifestation of something that has existed throughout history. The difference between what happens now and what has happened before is driven by the nature of the internet and social media – and Facebook in particular.

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The Internet, Warts and All: Free Speech, Privacy and Truth

Cambridge University Press


The Internet, Warts and All asks questions. Why are government digital policies so often out of touch and counter-productive? Why is surveillance law problematic and ineffective - and often defeated in court? Do companies like Google and Facebook really care about freedom of speech? Why are neither laws nor technology companies able to get to grips with trolling?

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The Right To Be Forgotten as a Positive Force for Freedom of Expression

Blog Droit Européen


The right to be forgotten is generally portrayed as a restriction on freedom of speech, but the situation is more complex than this. In some ways the right to be forgotten works in favour of both freedom of speech and access to information – helping both those who wish to have their work accessed and those seeking information. Indeed, as this paper argues, if the right is properly implemented, the benefits to freedom of expression may well outweigh the risks.

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Collective Switching and Possible Uses of a Disengaged Consumer Database

Centre for Competition Policy


This report analyses collective switching in principle and practice, and examines potential uses of a database of disengaged consumers whose construction was recommended by the 2016 Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation report into the energy market.

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