Paul Bernal is a Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law in the UEA School of Law. His background is unusual for a legal academic. His first degree was in mathematics, at Cambridge University, 20 years ago, and he is a qualified Chartered Accountant. Over the last 20 years he has worked as an auditor, in finance for big companies in the City, done pioneering work in the early days of the internet, including setting up and running the first online real-time education system for children to operate in the UK, and been finance director of a charity dealing with mental health and criminal justice.


That lead him to the study of human rights law - his PhD at the LSE concerned the interaction between human rights and internet privacy and in particular, the commercial gathering and use of personal data - particularly by organisations like Google and Facebook - and how that use affects our lives, and will increasingly affect our lives in the future.

Key Research Interests

Paul’s current research centres around internet related issues: privacy, surveillance, freedom of expression and other human rights. He looks at the role of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and how the law deals with our interactions with each other, with businesses and with authorities. A book based in part on his PhD, titled ‘Internet Privacy Rights: rights to protect autonomy’, will be published in early 2014 by Cambridge University Press.

'Web 2.5: The Symbiotic Web' (2010) 24 International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 25-37

'Collaborative Consent: Harnessing the Strengths of the Internet for Consent in the Online Environment' (2011) 24 International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 287-297

'Rise and Phall: Lessons from the Phorm Saga' in S Gutwirth et al (eds) Computers, Privacy and Data Protection: An Element of Choice (Springer Verlag 2011) 269-283

'A Right to Delete' (2011) 2 European Journal of Law and Technology  

Teaching Interests

  • Paul’s teaching includes Legal Method, Skills and Reasoning for first year undergraduates, elements of Internet Law and Media Law for undergraduates, and he is the course organiser for the postgraduate course The Protection and Management of Privacy and Reputation. Paul is also the course director for the LLM in Media Law, Policy and Practice. Paul also does work with other schools: he represents the Law School in the multidisciplinary course ‘Media and Society’, and teaches on the new course ‘Essential Law and Public Affairs for Journalists’ for the school of Film, Television and Media.

External Activities and Indicators of Esteem

  • Paul has a growing media profile. He is a prolific tweeter and a successful blogger, covering not just law and privacy but politics and related matters. He has been quoted in a number of magazines, from the Economist, New Statesman, Telegraph and the New York Times to MacUser and PCPro. He has written pieces for Index on Censorship and the Open Rights Group and appeared on both local and national radio. He is also a member of the advisory council for the Open Rights Group.