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Technology and Society: Values and Norms


Admission requirements



Values and Norms in Cyberspace is about regulatory issues in relation to information and communication technologies (ICTs), and especially the internet. ICT has become a vital infrastructure in our modern society. We use the internet at home, at work, and when in transit, to email, look up information on Google, or check in which friends via Facebook. These technologies have enriched our lives and made them more fun and more efficient. But they also raise a host of regulatory and ethical questions. Is our privacy safe in a world of interconnected, always-on technologies? What is the balance between freedom of expression and harassment or bullying online? Is it still feasible to develop trust relations on the internet? How can we regulate the behaviors of individuals in a network that spans the globe and knows no boundaries?
This course investigates how values key to modern society such as autonomy, privacy, trust and freedom can be safeguarded online. This course takes an holistic approach to regulation. This entails that not only legal norms, but social and technical norms as well are part of the regulatory toolkit that will be explored.

Course objectives

Objective(s) of the course
Technological developments occur at dazzling speed, and this entails that regulators and policy makers need to be able to think creatively and flexibly about solutions for potential problems. This course will provide students with an understanding of the complexity of some of the fundamental regulatory issues in relation to the internet, and it will equip them for the multidisciplinary dialogue with policy makers and ICT specialists that is necessary to tackle these issues.

Achievement levels The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:

  • Understanding the basic architecture and operation of the internet and the directions in which it will develop in the near future;

  • Understanding the fundamental regulatory issues that have emerged in relation to the internet, and the relevance of design choices in the architecture of the network for both the creation and solution of these issues.

  • Understanding the interplay of social, legal, market, and technical norms in regulating behavior online.

  • Understanding the complexity of balancing different values in and across the internet, for example privacy and security, or freedom of expression and online harassment.

  • Understanding the complexity of the regulatory and policy landscape to tackle regulatory issues on the internet.

This knowledge should equip students with the ability to weigh and evaluate the development of specific ICT services or applications, to see where potential regulatory and ethical issues might arise in their use or deployment, and to give advice on designing technologies in a way that avoids or diminishes such issues.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction

Lectures/ seminars

  • Number of (2 hour) lectures/ seminars: 10

  • Name(s) of lecturer(s): Prof.dr. V.A.J. Frissen

  • Required preparation by students: Reading the required materials on Blackboard, submitting one assignment

Other methods of instruction None.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • 1 Assignment (25% of the final grade)

  • Final exam (75% of the final grade)

  • If students fail this course (weighted final grade < 5.5), the grade they have received for the assignment will no longer count for the retake! There won't be another assignment for the retake, the obtained points for the retake exam determine 100% of the final grade.

Submission procedures

  • The assignment will be made available through Blackboard and should be submitted to Prof.dr. V.A.J. Frissen via Turnitin on Blackboard within a week after becoming available.

  • The assignment is not obligatory, but does count for 25% of the final grade!

  • The final exam counts for 75% of the final grade.

Areas to be tested within the exam

The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials Literature:

  • All required readings are available via Blackboard in week-by-week folders.

Course information guide:

  • All course information can be found on Blackboard.


  • T.b.d.

Recommended course materials

  • Recommended readings are available via Blackboard in week-by-week folders, alongside the required readings. These can be used, e.g., when writing the assignment.


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.

Contact information


  • Institute: Meta Juridica

  • Department: eLaw, Center for Law and Digital Technologies

  • Telephone number secretary: 071 – 527 8838

  • E-mail: