As technologies converge, the introduction of pervasive and globalised communication systems has led to the need for evidence-based policy-development more than ever before. The flow of information in society and the use of converging technologies also give rise to diverse governance issues. Corporate structures evolve and regulate themselves toward increasing wealth and profits through communication offerings. With each innovation there is always the potential of new tensions either among the various communication providers or with the common good of society itself. This dimension of knowledge societies primarily enacted through media and information communication technologies has been identified as such an important growth area that the EU has formally set out to gain its leadership.
The Department of Information Policy and Governance (DIPG) builds on a tradition pioneered at the University of Malta by the Law & IT Research Unit (LITRU) established in 1988 and which originally focussed on legal implications and applications of information technology. This quickly evolved into a multi-disciplinary approach which by the mid-1990s was investigating a spectrum of issues ranging from an integrated Information policy for society to cognitive science aspects of law.
LITRU was involved in the post-1989 data protection-related training of police forces across Eastern Europe (especially Bulgaria and Czech Republic)as well as design of computer systems for the Malta police and, significantly, for the first (1993) review of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation R(87)15 on the use of personal data for police purposes. In 1994 it was commissioned to contribute to the drafting of an Information Practices Act by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Malta. Today the scope of LITRU’s activities has grown such that it is being developed further by two departments working in close collaboration: the Department for Media, Communication & Technology Law within the Faculty of Laws and the Department for Information Policy & Governance within the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences (MAKS).
During the past twenty years LITRU, IPG and other CCT/MAKS personnel were involved in a number of major international research projects dealing with the societal impact of new technologies. Most recently, these included FP7 European projects in the area of Security (SMART- Scalable Measures for Automated Recognition Technologies), socio-economic science (CONSENT - Consumer sentiment regarding privacy on user generated content (UGC) services in the digital economy) and Science and Society (SET-DEV Technology-driven rules in emerging economies).