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Professor Dan Svantesson takes out top research honour

Professor Dan Svantesson from Bond’s Faculty of Law has taken out one of the University’s top academic honours – the 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award – in recognition of the global impact he has had in his specialist area of internet jurisdiction.

Professor Svantesson joined Bond in 2004 and has established himself as one of the Faculty’s most high-profile and prolific researchers, with a well-earned reputation internationally for breaking new ground and influencing public policy in the constantly evolving area of cross-border internet laws.

Since starting his PhD in 2011, Professor Svantesson has authored four books, six book chapters, 80 conference papers and more than 140 journal articles, book reviews and editorials.

He has also contributed strongly to public debate and influenced public opinion in his areas of speciality, not just within the legal sector, but across global mainstream media.

In 2012 Professor Svantesson received an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship and he has been involved in over $1M of grants in the last seven years.

He is a strongly sought-after speaker, having delivered guest lectures and papers at 24 countries across the globe since 2001, and holds a wide range of professorial affiliations with international institutions.

Executive Dean of Bond’s Faculty of Law, Professor Nick James, said many international students and some of the Faculty’s highest profile visiting scholars come to Bond as a result of relationships established by Professor Svantesson.

“He has been instrumental in the development of our relationships with the Universities of Oslo, Tromso and Bergen, which in turn has led to a steady stream of Norwegian postgraduate law students coming to Bond each year,” he said.

“Through his role as co-director of the Faculty of Law’s Centre for Commercial Law, Professor Svantesson provides strong leadership and direction in the centre’s initiatives. He has also extended his reputation and sphere of influence beyond traditional institutional and academic spaces to include Australian and international courts, as well as Google Inc, who recently sought and supported his intervention in a matter before the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Professor Svantesson has also supervised numerous postgraduate research students at Bond and is highly regarded by his peers for his quiet mentoring of junior researchers, frequently spending large amounts of time with them discussing their own research projects and plans.

“Professor Svantesson certainly deserved the University’s most prestigious research award.”

Professor Svantesson said he was honoured to receive the 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award.

“Traditionally at many universities the Research Excellence Award goes to someone in the medical field, so it was great to see the top award go to a researcher from a different faculty in 2016,” he said.

In terms of career highlights, Professor Svantesson cites two: receiving the ARC Future Fellowship in 2012 and being invited to speak to an audience of key policy makers at a meeting held by the EU Council earlier this year. 

“The ARC Fellowship takes a mid-level academic and gives them the opportunity to develop an international profile, enabling them to dedicate themselves and their lives to full-time research for four years.

“It was a lot of hard work, but for tremendous reward. It is a wonderful, unique thing from an international perspective and a great initiative for Australia,” he said.

“Another career highlight for me was being the only academic invited to present during the plenary session of an expert meeting on ‘Crossing Borders: Jurisdiction in Cyberspace’ held by the Dutch President of the EU Council.

“To see that my ideas are of interest to Europe’s chief law makers - and that I was potentially able to help shape the EU’s future direction in the law enforcement of cloud computing - was very satisfying.

“If I can convince the EU of something, that can have flow-on effects in other countries across the world, then I can truly make a difference – which for me, is what it is all about.”

Professor Svantesson came to Australia in 1999 as a Study Abroad student and stayed on to pursue a Masters of International Law at UNSW.  It was while studying his Masters that he first came across the topic of IT law and became fascinated with the newly-emerging issue of internet jurisdiction.

“For me, this was a brave new world. There was very little written on the topic at that time, but this really inspired me and made me feel I could make a useful contribution,” he said.

“What appeals to me about internet law is its size, scope and complexity - and that it constantly evolves as technology evolves.

“The internet is ‘borderless’ by its very nature, with a remarkable ability to connect people from different countries, however there is a complete mismatch between the ‘globalness’ of the internet and the territorial nature of the law.

“For example if you buy a pair of shoes from a German website that are faulty, or someone from overseas says something defamatory about you on social media, which country’s laws apply?”

Professor Svantesson’s advice to young up-and-coming career researchers comes straight from the heart.

“Find an area you’re passionate about and pursue that – relentlessly,” he said.

“Some people may tell you to be diverse in your approach, but before you can start worrying about being diverse, you need to become a real expert in a particular field.

“Focus on becoming known for ‘something’, because no-one is ever going to be known for ‘everything’.”

Professor Svantesson has recently returned from presenting at conferences in Palo Alto, Paris, Strasbourg, Brno, and delivering a colloquium on his ARC Fellowship research findings in Vienna, which will be published as a book by Oxford University Press in 2017.

In terms of where Professor Svantesson will focus his future research energies, one area he sees as a natural extension to his internet jurisdiction conclusions is that of jurisdiction in relation to cyber security and cyber warfare.

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