Research interests

Dr. Phillip W. Brunst works on issues between law and technology. He conducts research on current issues of information technology law and legal informatics.

Information Law

Information (technology) law, often referred to as “computer law”, “multimedia law”, or “Internet law”, engages in the reactions of jurisprudence on the developments of modern information technology. Examples are the introduction of electronic signatures in legal relations, the establishment of access to digital governmental information, or the development of a coherent regulatory system for the prosecution of criminal actions in the digital arena. Information law is therefore a truly cross sectional area that combines civil law, public law, and criminal law.

The research interests of Dr. Brunst concern primarily matters of criminal law in the areas of information law as well as of data protection law, especially in relation to the Internet.

In the area of criminal law he conducts research especially on the phenomena of transborder computer criminality as well as on the national and international instruments in the fight against them. His book “Handbook on Internet Criminal Law” (together with Dr. Marco Gercke; in German), for example, highlights the legal responses on these challenges in Germany. He analyzed the difficulties in the international arena in the context of the fight against a terrorist use of the Internet (often referred to as “cyber terrorism”) in several publications and expert opinions.

In his (multiple award-winning) doctoral dissertation he studied on the one hand the interdependencies of law and technology and the close relation between questions of criminal law and data protection law on the other hand. The book concerns the relationship between anonymity on the Internet and chances for an effective prosecution of Internet-related crime.

Legal Informatics

While information law deals primarily with legal issues, legal informatics puts a focus on the technical implementation of solutions that are important for jurists as well as jurisprudence in general. As an example, for a long time research has been conducted on the question whether – with the help of artificial intelligence – judicial decision processes and the act of subsumption can be technically adapted

The research interests of Dr. Brunst in the area of legal informatics are manifold. Up to now a focus was on the development of e-learning applications for jurists. Previous projects aimed at the transfer of applied knowledge, of legal expert knowledge, and on expert systems in comparative law.

Examples for the first category, the transfer of applied knowledge, are several applications that were created by Dr. Brunst for the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (LMU), e.g. document management systems or e-learning applications for young jurists that provide insight into technical basic knowledge. Both applications were in productive use for several years.

The multimedia e-learning application “cueno” was aimed at law students and allowed them to gain insight into legal expert knowledge. The concept, the development as well as the service itself were sponsored by the Bavarian Ministry for Science, Research, and Art and jointly put into effect by the LMU and the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law. As head of project Dr. Brunst was responsible for the legal questions that were in the center of the knowledge transfer process, the didactic challenges, and the technial implementation. “cueno” was available from 2005 to 2010 free of charge. Another example for the transfer of expert knowledge is a chapter that Dr. Brunst designed for the e-learning program of the KIC in Seoul/Korea.

The “International Max Planck Information System for Comparative Criminal Law” in Freiburg i. Br./Germany, is an expert system for researchers who want to inform themselves on foreign legal systems with the help of a computer system. Future development steps will contain comparative legal information as well as background data on the legal systems contained with the program. For several years, Dr. Brunst was the technical manager for the program.

Awards and Achievements