Journal preview

Abstracts

Blockchain: Use of Technology to Increase Citizens' Engagement with European Union Democracy 

Maria-Anda Busuioc 

The paper aims to provide an analysis of the extent to which the introduction of blockchain in the democratic processes of the European Union can improve the quality of democracy, empower citizens and encourage active democratic engagement. Focusing on the criticisms of the European Parliament elections and the European Citizens’ Initiative, the discussion will demonstrate, through unpicking underlying themes, the current shortcomings and where these processes fail to adequately engage citizens. Recognizing the current drive toward increasing the use of technology, especially blockchain, to improve public services the paper will discuss the application of this technology to both the elections and the European Citizens’ Initiative. It will assess the extent to which blockchain could address the previously identified shortcomings and improve both the processes and the current level of citizen engagement. The paper will finish by discussing the possible limits of blockchain in achieving an improved democratic system that is citizen-centric. As part of this analysis, the paper will attempt to offer some suggestions as to how these limitations could be solved so that the ultimate goal of modernisation and citizen empowerment through the use of technology can be realized. 

 

To What Extent Have the General Data Protection Regulation’s Reformed Consent Requirements Enhanced Consumer Protection Regarding Non-Sensitive Personal Data?  

Sofia Inga Tyson 

Within the European Union (EU), data processing continues to rise at an unprecedented rate, despite consumers expressing concern about the ubiquity of personal data processing. This paradoxical behaviour provokes concern about the meaningfulness of the consent provided by consumers and thus the protection afforded to consumers by existing frameworks. This is a profound failure considering consent is the most common basis for legitimising personal data processing and is an integral tool for consumer protection. However, the recent incision of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) promised to enhance the control possessed by consumers over their personal data and protect their ability to make autonomous, informed and transparent decisions. However, due to the recency of this legal framework, this claim has lacked sufficient exploration thus far. Therefore, this paper seeks to critically examine whether the GDPR’s reformed consent requirements have truly enhanced consumer protection regarding non-sensitive personal data. It will critically review the doctrinal distinctions between consent under the GDPR and the Data Protection Directive (DPD) and wide bodies of interdisciplinary literature to conclude that whilst the law has made inherent improvements to the position of the consumer under the guise of consumer protection theory, the transformative and protective effects of the GDPR are largely illusory and overstated in practice because the GDPR remains contingent on the same flawed perceptions that led to the demise of the DPD. On this basis, regulatory interventions beyond black letter law are advocated and further research into these are prompted. 

 

Parliamentary Curtailment of Judicial Powers: Emanation or Abuse of the Rule of Law and Democracy? 

Rehan D Chaudhuri  

In 2019, the Supreme Court rendered its highly anticipated decision in Privacy International v IPT [2019] UKSC 22, which involved the applicability of an ‘ouster clause’ that purportedly immunized the Investigatory Powers Tribunal from judicial review. An ouster clause is a legislative provision that seeks to restrict or preclude the High Court’s supervisory jurisdiction over inferior courts, tribunals and other administrative bodies. Privacy International affirmed in strong terms, the principles laid down by the House of Lords in Anisminic v FCC [1969] 2 AC 147, regarding the constructive requirements for such clauses to be effective. But, more importantly, it reignited the contentious debate on whether the United Kingdom’s putatively supreme Parliament has the authority to restrict or totally strip the judiciary’s powers by way of statute.  

This paper argues that despite popular conceptions of parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament both does and should have limited competence to curtail the judicial role through mechanisms like ouster clauses. Initially framing this issue as one concerning Parliament’s own sovereignty, this research analyses some of the underlying rationales for the statutory interpretation approach currently adopted by judges when faced with an excessively restrictive or preclusive provision. More controversially, this paper also examines the more novel theme of whether primary legislation such as a total ouster clause may be inconsistent with the rule of law and, accordingly, be declared unconstitutional by the UK judiciary. Finally, this research explores the wider effects that restricting the judicial role may have on fundamental democratic structures, rights and values. 

 

A Crisis in Europe: Why Have Integration Outcomes of the Eurozone Crisis and the European Migrant Crisis Differed? 

Showmir Chowdhury 

This paper will use integration theory to explore why integration outcomes between the Eurozone crisis and the European Migrant crisis have differed despite similar functional pressures. Both crises were triggered by exogenous tensions: a subprime mortgage crisis in the US causing global recession and conflict in the Middle-East causing a humanitarian crisis. Although the European law is more supranational about migration and less  with the Eurozone, responses to the crises have seen the reverse. To unpick this paradox, this paper will undertake a comprehensive assessment of major integration theories. Neofunctionalism sets out pre-existing transnational interdependence, the supranational capacity of institutions and politicisation of the crises as variables to consider when understanding integration outcomes. Transnational interdependence will be discussed to determine the extent to which pre-existing interdependences set out by the regulatory frameworks within which the Eurozone and the Common European Asylum System operate have encouraged integration. Then, the pre-existing supranational capacities of each institution will be outlined to determine their increased mandate. Considering integration outcomes of the European Migrant crisis do not meet neofunctionalist expectations, the politicisation of both crises will be discussed to conclude that whilst European elites were successful in depoliticising the Eurozone crisis as one with ‘no alternative’ but further integration; populist entrepreneurs during the Migrant crisis were able to galvanise nationalist identities against supranational delegation.  

 

Silencing the story of the streets: An investigation into how the media and political (mis)representations of UK drill music affects the lives and identities of black youth in South London 

Oluwamitoke Debo-Aina 

Drill music’s emergence in the mid-2010s coincided with increases in knife-related crime and gang violence; the relationship between the two has been distorted and reported on extensively since. Drill artists have been subjected to increased police surveillance, criminal behaviour orders, and lyrics have been used successfully to bring criminal convictions. Existing research explores the relationship between drill music and crime; often assuming the significance of the genre for its producers and audiences, leaving the actual significance of the genre for this community empirically unexplored. Consequently, the impacts of the genre’s misrepresentations: prohibitionist political campaigns and increased use of formal criminalization tactics, remain poorly understood. 

A semi-structured interview and thematic analysis were undertaken to investigate the participants’ (aged 18 to 22) relationships with drill and their subjective experiences of misrepresentation. Mainstream misrepresentations of drill aggravate the existing marginalisation of urban black South Londoners, but participation within the drill subculture mitigates against deviant labelling. Disproportionately black disadvantage is understood within a framework of racial neoliberalism. Structural issues are de-racialized and the black community are blamed for their marginalisation, and punished for their efforts to escape it. Criminalising drill subculture removes opportunities from black youth, silences their discussions of marginalisation, and undermines their efforts to mitigate its effects. Subsequently, this dissertation suggests that local authorities should focus on providing licit activity within urban communities in order to counter gang and criminal involvement. The police should refrain from the excessive criminalisation of the genre and subculture as this exacerbates the issue of urban crime and violence.