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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. The internet has become a vital infrastructure in our modern society, which is exceptionally clear in the current Corona times. We use digital technologies at home, at work, and when in transit, to email, look up information, to Google, or check in which friends via social media. 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 that are key to our modern society such as autonomy, privacy, trust and freedom can be safeguarded online. The course takes an holistic approach to regulation. This entails that not only legal norms, but also social and economical norms, technical design choices and ethics 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 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, ethical, 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.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Number of (4 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Prof.dr. V.A.J. Frissen, with the possibility of guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students: Reading the required materials on Brightspace and submitting a written assignment.

  • Lectures and interactive seminars for which attendance is mandatory. Registration is required (in MyStudymap/uSis all lectures/interactive seminars are mentioned as working groups).

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • 1 Assignment (20% of the final grade)

  • Final (written) exam (80% of the final grade)

  • The assignment is obligatory. The weighted final grade must be at least a 5.5. Only the final (written) exam can be retaken: the grade for the assignment remains valid for the retake.

  • The grades for the assignment and the final exam are no longer valid once the academic year has ended.

Submission procedures

  • The assignment will be made available through Brightspace and should be submitted via the submission link on Brightspace, within a week after becoming available.

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 video lectures/the interactive seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations) on the condition that this course is not part of the minor. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course if they meet certain requirements. To retake a passed exam, students need to ask the Student Administration Office (OIC) for permission. For more information, go to 'course and exam enrollment' > 'permission for retaking a passed exam' on the student website.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials


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

Course information guide:

  • All course information can be found on Brightspace.


  • T.b.d.

Recommended course materials

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


Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.



  • Institute: Meta Juridica

  • Department: eLaw, Center for Law and Digital Technologies

  • E-mail:


Minor students have priority to follow the course, but they are responsible for the registration in MyStudymap/uSis. If minor students do not register on time, this priority will lapse.