Upcoming Program


As technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, advance and accelerate, the law is failing to keep apace. Policymakers, the judiciary and legal practitioners alike face unprecedented challenges and must respond to growing public concern. Yet, diverse regional responses to globe-spanning technology firms and issues, such as privacy and security, have led to legal uncertainties.

Societies and economies stand to gain if leading stakeholders come together to harness the innovation of cutting-edge technologies, foster cross-border collaboration, and improve flexibility and pragmatism in law and policymaking for global governance. Within an atmosphere of trust in an intimate environment, participants of the new Salzburg Global Law and Technology Forum will share foresight and understanding, supported by and informing a year-round platform devising pragmatic and functional solutions in law and policy flexible for today and adaptable for the future.

By invitation only

In a fast-moving and volatile world with accelerating technological change, policy, law and regulatory systems are struggling to keep up. New fields and grey areas raise unprecedented challenges for policymakers, the judiciary, and legal practitioners in public and private spheres. Technology firms and users are increasingly global, yet regional approaches differ, with legal uncertainty around conflict of laws, lack of territoriality, and imposition of extra-territorial jurisdiction. The widespread perception of a power asymmetry among large technology companies, small emergent ones, governments, and citizens also contributes to the erosion of trust, undermining the extraordinary potential of new technologies for public good.

The policy and legal implications of new technologies and data applications are difficult to ascertain when still emerging, but even harder to address after technologies have matured and become embedded in social and economic infrastructure. Regulation depends on top-down control and enforcement capacity, the antithesis of the bottom-up disruptive model pushed by innovators. Agnostic as to its own use, technology can be used for criminal purposes, to obscure criminal activity, or to investigate and combat crime. Legal technology (“lawtech”) can make the entire legal system more effective. However, lawyers and rule-makers may lack skills or the understanding of technology, the extent of its advance, or its future potential. This requires not only more interaction among stakeholders, but also a focus on actions designed to equip the legal sector with the necessary skills.

Legal concerns arise constantly and in multiple cultural and political contexts regarding the balance of privacy and security and of law enforcement and human rights, as well as on how data is held or used by private actors versus by governmental institutions, and with cyber security at the forefront. Artificial intelligence and the internet of things are increasingly becoming integrated in every facet of our lives. Algorithms need to be transparent to promote trust and ensure validity, but opaque to ensure security. Notions of privacy itself have evolved in the digital era, and may even cease to exist. Current events show that a better-informed citizenry can drive demand for greater transparency and accountability, yet no common ethical framework nor apportionment of responsibilities exists, leaving policymakers to respond to the latest headline.


The Salzburg Global Law and Technology Forum aims to create a high-level, cross-sector foresight and anticipatory leadership network across the technological ecosystem and its intersection with the law. The Forum seeks to achieve two concrete goals:

  1. Facilitate peer-to-peer dialogue across sectors within an atmosphere of trust, to share perspectives and opinions on critical current challenges and emerging trends.
  2. Enhance opportunities for cross-border regulatory frameworks, accords, and protocols, to clarify applicable rules and avoid conflicts of law or legal gaps.

As the Forum develops, it can also serve to find appropriate ways to equip current and future leaders – including judges, regulators, and policymakers – to understand new technologies and to assess the benefits and risks of accelerating disruption.


The central pillar of the Forum is a series of high-level retreats, with concrete follow-up and cooperation throughout the year by participants and their institutions. Discussions take place under the Chatham House Rule enabling an open and candid environment. Salzburg Global Seminar will actively curate the interlocking but often diffuse networks to increase collaboration, and track agreed implementation and progress. Given the fast-moving nature of technology, the Forum will remain flexible enough to support additional gatherings throughout the year, including at intervals in other regional locations.


Areas of activity to be discussed at the April 2019 program and in concrete follow-up activities may include:

  • Resolving specific priority issues and global challenges through a comprehensive and cross-sectoral process within conditions of mutual trust;
  • Exploring new ways lawtech might assist the legal profession to promote both efficient and effective justice;
  • Devising methods to equip rule-makers from judicial, legislative, and executive bodies with technological literacy, including both through facilitating continuing education or mainstreaming technical staff advising and supporting the rule-makers within institutional and legal processes;
  • Developing leadership skills and competencies that help unleash human potential in order to lead technological change, exploiting existing capabilities and new opportunities; and
  • Ensuring an ethical underpinning for technological development, consistent with the rule of law and global public good, seeking in particular to balance needs for security and privacy, law enforcement and human rights, and responsibilities for private firms and public institutions to each other and to citizens.


The April 2019 program will establish the Forum’s initial priority issues, reflecting on current practice and challenges, identifying opportunities for new international norms, and peering beyond the horizon at what may lurk ahead and how to build resilient strategies.

Each subsequent gathering of the Forum will primarily focus on a specific salient topic, with the right combination of voices invited to explore that topic from different constituencies and then to develop concrete opportunities for follow-up. Participants at the April 2019 program will together select the initial priority topics, which should be chosen precisely because they are not sufficiently addressed through existing trans-national and cross-sectoral dialogues.


Each program will be limited to approximately 30 senior leaders and rising specialists as a community of peers. The exact composition will change from program to program based on topic, but will balance constituencies and viewpoints, while remaining intimate enough to foster dialogue and mutual trust.

Participants will be drawn from:

  • Technology companies, including multinational giants, telecoms companies, and device manufacturers
  • Law firms operating across jurisdictions
  • Jurists, regulators, and policymakers and their senior advisors
  • Thought leaders from academia or thinktanks
  • Civil society activists representing a variety of viewpoints
  • New players and up-and-coming disruptors

The Forum will ensure a high representation of women. While most agenda-setting debates currently take place among the United States, the European Union, and China, the Forum will include other geographies and perspectives at the cutting edge of technological development and experimentation (such as Israel, Japan, Korea, and Singapore), and across the Global South (particularly Brazil, Dubai, India, Kenya, and South Africa).