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Unlocking The Future of Legal Defence in Cyberspace

In this event, we delved into the complex and evolving legal landscape of cybercrime, examining the challenges and opportunities of prosecuting and penalizing cybercriminals in a borderless world. Our keynote speaker, David Hickton, shared his insights gained from his extensive experience as a prosecutor and legal scholar. He is a founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security and has led groundbreaking cybercrime cases in the USA. In the subsequent panel David Hickton explored the legal frontiers in the battle against cybercrime together with other panellists emanating from Belgian Law enforcement agencies, law firms and research institutions.

Keynote: Rule of Law in the Digital Age: Anticipating and deterring the cyber threats of tomorrow 

In his keynote, David Hickton delved deeper into the intricate landscape of cybersecurity within the framework of legal governance, examining critical facets and strategies to safeguard against emerging threats. His exploration began with a nuanced understanding of the multifaceted nature of cyber threats, particularly from China and Russia. He confronted the real-world consequences of these threats, particularly in the realm of election security, national security, innovation, and the protection of intellectual property, as well as their profound impact on economic vitality. He evaluated the responses and deterrence strategies employed by the US and Western legal frameworks and scrutinized the effectiveness of past agreements such as the Obama-Xi agreement, the sanctions enacted during the Trump era, and the policies shaping the Biden administration’s approach. As we peer into the future, Mr. Hickton explored how we can refine our legal tools to combat emerging cyber threats. This includes harnessing the full spectrum of available resources, advocating for cyber norms, and contemplating the implications of advanced technologies like AI and quantum computing on cybersecurity.  

Roundtable: Cyber Law Unbound: Exploring legal frontiers in the battle against cybercrime 

In today’s digital era, combating cybercrime demands forward-thinking legal frameworks. The panel navigated the uncharted territories of cyber law, explaining its definition and scope, and how it adapts to modern challenges The panel also provided insights into international perspectives, grappling with the complexities of harmonizing legal efforts across borders and discuss effective enforcement strategies globally. The panel uncovered the legal implications of emerging technologies like AI and blockchain, and how laws can adapt to mitigate new threats and delve into the delicate balance between cyber law, privacy, and data protection regulations. 


Sofie Royer, Research expert at CITIP (KU Leuven) & Guest professor at UAntwerpen and ULiège. 

Renaud Vercaemst, Dedicated criminal lawyer at Livorno Law Firm 


David Hickton, Founding Director Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security at University of Pittsburgh 

Thomas Declerck, Litigation Partner at Allen & Overy (Belgium) LLP 

Laura Drechsler, Assistant Professor at Centre for IT and IP Law (CITIP) @KU Leuven | Researcher at Federal Archive Belgium | Lecturer Open Universiteit 

Catherine Van de Heyning, Professor European Fundamental Rights at the University of Antwerp, Public prosecutor, Expert Advisory Committee UN Human Rights Council 

Caroline Frère, Head of Department a.i.  Federal Computer Crime Unit Federal Police Belgium