Posts By :

Raymond Blijd

USAfacts.org is CivicTech
Why CivicTech Is The Most Valuable of Them All?
1024 506 Raymond Blijd

Recently we celebrated CivicTech by posting 21 initiatives from across the world on the 26th & 27th of October. They are the most valuable of LegalTech and here’s why.

What is CivicTech?

Steve Balmer wasn’t going to donate to charity. He told his wife he paid enough in taxes. As she explained to him, it doesn’t work that way and to find out how it does work they donated $10 million to create USAFacts.org. A site dedicated to telling everyone how the US government spends tax dollars. The Balmer’s were exercising a basic human right to know the facts. Because without facts, Free Speech is nothing more than Fake News.

Over a 100 countries have established some kind of freedom of information law. Despite having access to all that data it still takes a considerable amount of tech to really get to the truth. The Panama Papers (11.5 million), Paradise Papers (13.5 million) and the little lighter Kennedy Assassination Records (13.000+) prove you need all the help you can get. Here’s a practical definition: CivicTech is whatever technology is developed to protect your civil rights. And most of it starts with knowing what rights we have.

Why is CivicTech so valuable?

Financial numbers tell us that it is. This July, Legalpioneer calculated the average investments per market and CivicTech came out on top but has since slipped to third. Unfortunately, not all have “Mr. Developer” money to invest in the importance of understanding our rights and how they affect our position in society.

But bear in mind, the US opioid crisis unveiled how much ($248 million) is spent to influence these positions. Equally, their presidential elections revealed how little ($46.000) is needed to nudge even the largest democracy. We were brought up to believe our vote and voice matter, the reality is that it can just as easily be bought and bargained. Those who pay for and play with our liberties bank on anarchy to be more profitable then stability and fairness.

If you acknowledge how important funding is for our individual rights, the above-mentioned amplifies how perilous we have become. It’s not just providing power to the people, also to the individual. Cyberbullying and Sexual Harassment are rampant and a real reminder that it isn’t going away with just saying you’re sorry.

Who will defend our civil rights?

When you distill it, it boils down to the following. You need at least $248 million to get your own law approved. About $10 million to find out the truth or defend your privacy in court. Around $40k to misinform a susceptible audience to become the new sheriff of planet Earth. But if you do not have the means and the “report abuse” button does not work. You have just a single vote to oppose injustice. That is if you are eligible and able to register.

There is Access to Justice (#A2J) movement across the world which is addressing a more affordable system. But it still begs the question: why is it so expensive in the first place? Maybe it is a lack of tech-savvy empathic professionals to make it more user-friendly and efficient.

I called them “Fair Defenders” and it is a slightly corny name which belies the immense responsibilities we entrust upon them. Challenges like rising income inequality, massive job displacements, environmental disasters and global disinformation.

These defenders acknowledge that the tech is mightier than the sword. They use Artifical Intelligence (AI) to stop Cyberbullying (video) and protect the LBGT community. Employ Blockchain to preserve citizens rights or simply create a community and start the conversation (TEDTalk). And as this court case proves, they can also stop AI from violating our civil rights. There is a list of about 64 examples below to inspire more of them.

You can bookmark or embed this sheet to have the latest in CivicTech. The sheet will be updated in real-time whenever we add more to Legalpioneer. Would you like to be notified of updates? Request an invite to our Recon project.

Recon 3
Whiskey, Wine & Water: How Funding Flows Through LegalTech
1024 544 Raymond Blijd

This year we’re on pace to set records in Legal Tech funding. Crunchbase and CB insights suggest it’s too early to party. Here’s an alternative toast.

Whiskey

CB Insights reported this October an uptick in overall venture funding of Legal Tech companies yet noted that seed money is down. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise since signs of winter were visible as early as last year. CrunchBase provided an extensive yet grim breakdown of Legal Tech funding. Both reported that the number of deals in Legal Tech was up however, a downturn in investments is affecting startups across all industries. This downturn even resulted in Crunchbase questioning if venture capital has peaked and Techcrunch declaring the end of startups.LP Status

This year we’re seeing bigger later stage rounds like Casetext raising $12 million for a total of $20.8 million or $24 million depending on who you ask. Likewise, we’ve witnessed record-setting seed rounds like Abfindungsheld $11.5 million (signup) or Atrium LTS $10.5 million. What we are looking at are anomalies which don’t represent signs of a strong legal market.

Here’s why: when the number of Legal Tech startups cumulatively rises each year but venture funding for this sector remains stable or declines, the net effect is less capital for the sector. This results in lower evaluations for younger startups. It’s also the reason why many are raising funds via Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) which further dilute evaluations. Samples are Smartcontract.com or Agrello. Just like a few good spirits will boost the taste in any blended whiskey, they also disguise the quality of the other added blends.

Wine

I stumbled upon this insight when skipping year by year in Legalpioneer Where. I noticed that the total amount raised remained stable or declined year after year as the number of startups grew, especially between 2015-16. The reason why this emerged from our database is the result of our tracking methodology which is different than Crunchbase and CB Insights.

The Legalpioneer database consists of legal- and regulatory startups with their approximate month and year of birth. Contrary to others, we go to great lengths to track dates to a month-level in order to provide this alternative view of the legal landscape. Adding the total disclosed investments for each startup enables us to expose the total amount of funding for a given generation of startups. Example: Peppermint Technologies raised its first round in 2015 but was founded around 2010 therefore we display them in the 2010 year bracket.

Tracking total investments for startups founded in a given year reveals the maturity of innovation in the legal sector in seasons. As Crunchbase noted as well: Legal Tech Class of 2015 was extraordinary. We noticed that 2011-12 is even better. That’s how I discovered: Legal Tech is like vintage wine.

 LP Where Timeframes

Water

Zooming out from quarters, seasons, all the way out to the entire lifecycle of startups offers another glimpse. One indicator for a healthy sector is the influx of capital, the other may be the return of that capital to investors. Barring death, there are two possible outcomes for startups: Aquisition or Initial Public Offering (IPO). Apptus is on track to IPO soon and is valued at $1.75 billion but next to them I have no others in sight.

We may even debate if Apptus fits the definition of Legal Tech but the fact is, IPO is an extremely unlikely exit for a Legal Tech startup. One reason may be that seeding startups with small amounts mean they have less time to prove their model works. Having a short runway in a market with notoriously long sales cycles is disastrous.

This leaves acquisitions as the most lucrative outcome. I’ve looked at over 80 acquisitions (signup) of companies in the legal industry stretching as far back as 1865. Usually, the price tags of these companies remain secret but it should be a safe assumption that it’s dropping with each new acquisition.

To summarize: an over-supply of new ventures in conjunction with a limited outlook on lucrative returns of investment is making the entire legal industry thirsty for cash.

Drink

This shouldn’t feel like a hangover. More deals means more activity and attention for the legal sector. Cheaper startups make more attractive acquisition targets for incumbents resulting in quicker not higher returns of investment. Increased competition for cash may actually produce more sturdy and diverse types of Legal Tech. Maybe these companies will broaden their horizons and not have such a strict view on what Legal Tech is supposed to be and who they should sell it to.

Here’s where Legalcomplex can help. Legalpioneer Recon (from Reconnaissance) is our next project in support of startups striving to succeed. We check if your company name is already used by any of the over 4000 startups in our database. You can match your concept against them and see if you are unique. Find out how many competitors you have and how much funding they have. Connect with like-minded companies and maybe partner with them. If you want this now, let us know here.

I’ll confess, I’m a single malt guy. Yet I’m open to any unique blend that lifts my spirit and that’s why I’m offering Recon for free.

Cheers!

Legalpioneer Ambition: The Future For A Fair Society Is..
1024 533 Raymond Blijd

In June we stumbled onto something: we were able to machine-classify over 4000 startups in a unique way. Essentially, this enabled us to tell the story about the future of the legal industry. It’s all about Ambition.

Legal

After analyzing and classifying a wide gamut of private companies we believe operate in the legal space, we noticed a couple of shifts. First, between 2010-2015 about 124 legal marketplaces were created and some managed to raise $355 million like LegalZoom, Avvo, Upcounsel, and RocketLawyer. It looked like the beginning of a golden age. But after 2016 only 83 marketplaces joined with overall $3.2 million in investments.

In the same period after 2016, 121 startups in the legal sector claimed to employ predictive analytics, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) or some type of artificial intelligence (A.I.). A similar effect appeared when looking for startups using Blockchain. More blockchain startups (26) appeared since 2016 than we have seen (25) in the past five years before 2015.

These smart legal startups gathered $26 million (A.I.) and $21 million (Blockchain) in funding. Please note: we can only track disclosed investments and initial coin offerings (ICO). Seeing the creative ways one can raise funds nowadays, our numbers may be just the tip.

A marketplace is an ambitious winner-take-all strategy in any market. Its success requires massive investment in service experience design or marketing to capture mindshare. Marketplaces also require many lawyers to sustain it and therefore we classify them as Law. If our algorithms sense startups use automation or prediction to reduce the need for lawyers, we classify it as LegalTech.

RegTech

If we need to hire LegalTech to help manage risks, RegTech is the Do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. Startups operating a RiskTech, Fintech, WealthTech or Tax business heavily rely on legal as a component to operate. They are developing a form of LegalTech Lite to cope. Health products need HIPAA and Cannabis operators face a slew of competing regulations. Basically, any business accepting payment will encounter fraud so they need to know their customers. And anyone going into business first needs to become bonafide.

Payment processor Stripe raised $440m to grow their business by getting customers onboard fast. Apparently, it doesn’t want to rely on any current legal service construct, like law firms or marketplaces, to scale their growth. Therefore, they build Stripe Atlas to process incorporating companies just as fast as it’s able to process their payments.

Hence startups offering compliance and security as an integral or stand-alone part of a product are being rewarded by investors. As of September 2017, Legalpioneer tracked about $13 billion in funding and 10 billion (76%) went to RegTech startups.

Ambition

In summarizing: since 2016, Law went from $355 million to $3.2 million while the total of Smart LegalTech startups received $47 million (57%) of funding with just 147 (15%) share of startups. In that same period, 26 Regtech startups with Blockchain captured $329 million and 42 AI Regtech startups received $72 million to gobble up all high-volume legal work.

It’s almost an unfair fight for legal industry incumbents: at the top, high-value work can be automated by smart LegalTech. At the bottom, better funded and equipped companies are processing it away from the legal market. In the middle, legal services are commoditized by marketplaces and legal spend analytics startups are stabilizing the prices.

This shift isn’t just to free up lawyers for higher value work there are trained for, rather it’s a shift towards higher value work they may not be equipped to handle. So if the traditional legal industry wants to survive, it has to look at the bigger picture, engage a wider audience and show the ambition to redesign itself.

If Henry Ford would ask Lawyers what they wanted, they would answer: Faster Documents

Here’s one that blew me away: a futarchy government (Wikipedia) is a society without legislation. Instead, governments run on economic policies coded in smart contracts and executed on the blockchain. Now before you ask me about my prescriptions, keep in mind: someone is actually building this and they got $12.5 million to succeed.

Dashboard

Remember, while LegalTech looks at AI and Blockchain as a hammer looking for nails, Regtech already poured both technologies into the foundation of their houses. Houses with no windows we all will reside in. Houses anyone can break into as the scale of Equifax breach revealed. The future of a well-balanced and safe society is to ensure it’s foundations are fair and the question is: who engineers that?

The mission of Legalpioneer is to figure out legal’s future so we created a couple of apps to achieve our goal. Legalpioneer Status app is updated daily with fresh metrics on the state of LegalTech and Regtech. We are still tweaking the algorithms on Legalpioneer Ambition but feel free to test drive it. To see this story come alive and visualized, play around with Legalpioneer Where. Check out the video below and see how you can run your own analysis in areas of interest.

Wondering something or have a suggestion? Reach us on Twitter: @Legalpioneer, Linkedin or email: Raymond-at-Legalcomplex.com.

My 7 Easy Steps to Stay Creative and Outsmart Robots
1024 576 Raymond Blijd

Some say creativity is a gift. Others may see it as a curse. I value creativity as a dreamscape and here are my notes to help you do you.

What is creativity to me? The ability to describe the invisible. To be able to recognize what is missing by seeing what isn’t there. We all are creative but sometimes we treat it as a disease. We tend to pity the dreamers who can’t capitalize on it. However, a rich imagination builds a wondrous world where anything is possible. 

Here are 7 practical tips to nurture your inception:

1. Listen to new music: I take a different run route every week. Try to mix & match outfits as often as possible and gamble on diets.

Why: Our brain is like any other muscle in our body, it only grows by resistance. Therefore you have to actively feed it new pathways and discoveries. Be wary of routines, they are the sedative to serendipity. Only use them to be more efficient in boring stuff like brushing your teeth. Or try brushing with your left :).

2. Talk to people. I listen, really listen carefully and transport myself into their universe.

Why: Introverts are seen as naturally creative creatures and their secret is listening. Have a genuine interest and empathy for others. It will enable you to have new experiences which will seed your inventions.

3. Avoid safe: When faced with 2 choices: known and unknown. Depending on the context, I always force myself to go for the unknown.

Why: It’s the only option that will provide you an opportunity to learn. It’s the main reason why established companies only manage one disruption in their lifetime. That is usually when they startup.

4. Be open: I summon my inner child and suppress my life experiences for as long as I can before I pass judgment. I like being wide-eyed wowed all the time and I don’t much care if others perceive me to be naive.

Why: You should actually always reinvent the wheel but questioned it each time. It is only a total waste if you did not learn that you don’t need a wheel. Celebrate and savor your many trials and errors because innovation is often the byproduct.

5. Force pause: Avoid pressure and take breaks. I wrote here about kicking my smoking habit. I did not mention it most beautiful side-effect: a 5 minute -albeit drug induced- charge of inspiration.

Why:  Although constraints can be a source of creativity, time pressures mostly speed up the idiocy of finding the safest solution (3). I can’t remember ever having a flash of brilliance when forced to have one.

6. Let it Flow: I shower (7) with my splash-proof iPhone so when I get hits, I immediately jot them down and shelve them.

Why: Don’t delay or get distracted in capturing your lightning. Don’t worry about getting the entire concept or finishing your idea on the spot, just trust your instincts. You eventually be inspired again and be able to piece it back together.

7. Find your dawn: Early in the morning, late at night or after each nap I get bursts of brain waves. In the shower or the bathroom..well, you catch my drift.

Why: Finally, perhaps the single most effective tip I can provide is my discovery of not why I’m creative but when. As said: we are all creative but we, unfortunately, suppress our creativity by seemingly more important thoughts. I just love to surrender my mind to fancy so please indulge your fantasies.

Remember, your ingenuity is an irrational thunderstorm of thoughts, while computers are the opposite: logically calculated algorithms.

So our creativity just may be one of our best ways to outsmart robots.

Why We Hunt For Harmony in LegalTech
1024 576 Raymond Blijd

After hunting 214 apps on Producthunt and gathering them in the Epic Collection, here are some new theories on what a legal app really is. Or should be.

Two years ago I had 3 insights:

  1. The top voted legal apps are least likely to come from legal professionals;
  2. Practical is popular with hunters;
  3. Blockchain is an epic technology;

About 143 apps later, I’ve noticed some other trends.

Contracts & Taxes

One of the 27 tax apps I saw was literally called Death & Taxes. Ironically, it has since died. Nonetheless, the most hunted apps help you run your startup and deal with..contracts. Since most apps help you generate contracts, I was a little disappointed in the number of apps that actually help you understand them. Nevertheless, I was charmed by the simple beauty of some generators like this homegrown one: Docontract.com

Privacy & Harmony

With just 30 apps totaling over 11,000 votes, Privacy and Civictech seem to be dear to our hearts. To illustrate this strange struggle: Arrest SOS can be classified as a Marketplace but it feels more like CivicTech. Because our reality of increased risk, surveillance, and scrutiny, shouldn’t diminish our right to a fair treatment by those in power.

In another spectrum, I discovered examples where privacy was exposed by choice to ensure safety. Apps like CitizenWatcher or Companion literally help you navigate your city like a Redzone or be a Vigilante.

Patterns & Warnings

If you visit the Epic collection you’ll see the top 3 mirror the pattern described above: first is a curated source for founders, and the third is a payment app called Privacy.com. However, it is the second on the list that had my attention. A message for the Legal Industry: #FinTech is here.

Btw, if you are a little confused by the methodology of tagging legal startups e.g. isn’t Patents part of Intellectual Property? Or when is FinTech a legal app? It’s tough and you can read here some of the challenges of classifying legal. Ultimately, tagging legal apps according to legal principles may not make any sense in the real world. Besides our lives are already complex, we don’t need legal to make it worse.

So the rationale is to capture the apps that seek to reduce complexity and restore harmony in society. I believe that is what the legal industry was trained and hired to do.

Join the Hunt


 

Legalpioneer - Where
Where are Legalpioneers?
1024 640 Raymond Blijd

March 8th 2017 Legalpioneer celebrated its one year anniversary with a bang 💥 and launched the second phase of our mission: Legalpioneer Where 📍. The first in our ‘W’ trilogy.

Our Community

Our mission was to find and celebrate Legalpioneers everywhere. We wanted to cultivate a community of genuinely passionate people in pursuit of the stories, startups, and stars who support a Fair Society. Then the unexpected happened: it worked! We started with 7 pioneers and aimed to have 250 followers on Twitter within one year. Our community almost hit 500 followers, found over 200 startups, products, and pioneers across the globe and had to pause onboarding after 13 Legalpioneers to focus on the future.

Where📍

We set to find legal and regulatory startups and we did:  2500+ spread over 91 countries with over $3 billion in funding in 7 categories. We’re adding about 100 startups a month in both the Legal (60+) and Regtech (40+) sectors.

We don’t aim to be the largest database but our goal is to simply be uniquely insightful. That is why we are approaching this project from an inquisitive angle: Where is the activity?

The 3 criteria’s for inclusion:

  1. Do startups provide a service that has Legal implications;
  2. Or do they solve compliance with regulations (Regtech);
  3. Are they private companies;
  4. Have they been created, funded or did they pivot since 2010,

We track about 37 individual sources ranging from Angellist and CrunchBase. But also Linkedin, Twitter and especially the dedicated trackers from fellow pioneers.

Who 👥 Next

We’ll launch 2 more projects in the W series: Who 👥 and Why 👁. The first 2 will be regular LegalTech, the last is slated to use machine learning and incorporate deep neural networks. Yes, we’re building for pure AI.

The approach: before feeding the machine massive amounts of unstructured data, we are cooking it a carefully curated dataset. In this way, we aim to ensure our robot gets a well-balanced diet of fairness and empathy.

The intent is to “teach” our robot to locate and categorize companies. We’re test driving algorithms that check if a startup is still operational and plan to extend these to ‘calculate’ which startups will succeed. Eventually, we want our robot to monitor and predict the legal evolution on a global scale. We’ll widen our scope by adding LegalTech products from Law Firms, the Epic list from ProductHunt, CivicTech and Tweets.

So to all Legalpioneers everywhere, please check if your location is added to your Twitter profile and include hashtags: #LegalTech, #LawTech, #RegTech, #TaxTech. We’ll also be on the lookout out for #BrexitTech 😉. Mention @Legalpioneer in your tweet and we’ll find you.

Show your support for a Fair Society and give Where a try

Originally posted on Medium@Legalpioneer

RegTech Charts
1024 520 Raymond Blijd

Last updated: November 8 , 2017

Is RegTech bigger than LegalTech? Yes

 

Tech Fires Legal Hires
New Hires And Buyers While Technology Fires The Legal Industry
1024 476 Raymond Blijd

Will automation take away our jobs? Eventually, according to this Ted Talk. The more interesting question is who are the new hires and buyers in the sector formally known as Legal?

Fires 🔥

As this recent CNBC story poignantly states: Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers. Meanwhile, new possibilities are bound to open up and to find out what these may be I had to reason from first principles.

1. What is Legal Tech? Essentially it is whatever technology supports a Fair Society. For example, the algorithms behind rating your Uber drivers is Legal Tech. They practically replace the vetting and licensing of taxi drivers. Since autonomous vehicles can predict and prevent accidents, they effectively supersede traffic laws and driving licenses. eDiscovery platforms find legal in millions of documents. AI does legal research and can draft contracts. Legal Tech is as ubiquitous as the buttons you see everywhere to report spam and abuse by Internet trolls. Yet it is still as complex as the privacy settings on all your devices and services. Legal Tech is to protect the vulnerable and to provide transparency in business and government.

2. How will Tech replace Legal? Actually, you won’t need to know legal nor understand it’s logic to practice it. Just like you don’t need to learn the drums to create a beat. Heck, most DJ’s can’t even read music notes or play instruments. Same goes for Legal as this video explains how a non-tax expert passed a university tax exam with the use of AI. It’s a sign that robots are set to fire the traditional legal industry. Still, just like music will never go away, legal is here to stay.

Hires 👨🏼‍🎓

3. What will happen to Legal Professionals? Basically, they’ll need to learn a different tune. Here are the main players in the new band:

  1. Legal Engineers: they create Legal Tech by ‘teaching’ legal logic to machines;
  2. Collision Detectors: they use Legal Tech to smooth out the differences between humans and businesses.
  3. Fair Defenders: they need Legal Tech to sustain the checks and balances in our society.

The Legal Industry Roadmap reasoned how Legal Engineers will be building the backbone for fair technologies. Now I’ll highlight the front-office of The Practice.

4. What is the new Practice of Law? Fundamentally, legal knowledge is a social map of humanity’s past, present, and future. Navigating your way thru this universe, one has to match the right skills with the right tools to be able to avoid collisions. That is the underline principle driving the practice of legal professionals. Another way to see this: the Titanic didn’t need a stronger hull, it needed sonar. If you are as mystified as I am when you hear legal professionals talk about “quality” or “higher value work”. They are talking about Sonar and here are three functional narratives to explain this skill:

1.Is Airbnb’s Top Lawyer the New Archetype for the Legal Profession?

This article explains how AirBnB’s top counsel helps maneuver their business model through interpretation of justice. She operates as a Regulatory Sonar within the business to help it achieve its goals. These new archetypes will use legal tech to observe legislators, customers and competitors to strategically move the company forward.

2.Meet the China ‘whisperers’ who get the big deals done in Silicon Valley

Another function of in-house counsel is assisting the entrepreneur in capturing opportunities. These new legal hires aren’t just adept at detecting collisions as potential threats to the business. They have the strategies to turn them into opportunities. A Business Sonar monitors mergers, acquisitions, deals & patents with legal tech to connect the right people and opportunities.

3.Trump fires attorney general after copy of constitution is found on her computer

All kidding aside, perhaps the toughest job is having the courage to stand up and speak out. The world isn’t black or white but many shades. No one has a monopoly on justice and there aren’t any alternative facts. That is why we need a failsafe: checks & balances. Fair Defenders act like a Social Sonar and signal erosions of our liberties and act to redeem us.

Buyers 🏦

5. What is the new Business of Law? Initially, while entire industries even democracies operate outside the law, we’ll witness a rise in regulations to win power back. The 2 biggest sectors that will be impacted first are FinTech and Artificial Intelligence, consecutively the flow of wealth and knowledge.

At the opposing end, Governments will evaluate their role and ability to influence populations. They’ll need to integrate legal frameworks into tech platforms to help stabilize their communities. They’ll slowly come to realize that it will be meaningless to carpet bomb with legislation or executive orders.

Here’s a surreal approach from Bill Gates to illustrate: robots that replace human labor should pay taxes. How will governments agree upon taxing all computers in existence if these are just a software upgrade away from replacing us?  In short: in this war for wealth & power, #RegTech will dominate the near future.

 

Conclusion ✉️

Ultimately, while businesses regulate more of our lives through technology, governments increasingly lose the ability to do so as well. In this battle for our individuality and to restore the imbalance in society, we’ll have to rely on this force called Humanity.

Protect your PrivaCee
PrivaCeee: How to Protect Our Most Precious Asset
1024 576 Raymond Blijd

There I was at the dinner table, looking at my little diva shooting her latest Musica.ly music video. Pondering how to write my Privacy Policy in such a way she would a least give it a glance. Then I realize, she and millions like her will never read a legal document on the web…unless they could perhaps watch it like a music video.

Precious

I’ll admit, I never wanted to have a legal document on my site. It’s the most user unfriendly and universally ignored part of any service. Why would you write a document that nobody wants to read? Is there any way to design for legal that it can actually serve its purpose? More important: how do you protect the most vulnerable demographic on the web from squandering their most precious digital asset? According to “Growing Up Digital”, a report by the UK Children’s Commissioner: 0% of 8- to 11-year-olds understand what they sign when they join a social media site.

This has spurred several initiatives. From creating classes around 5Rights, an idea created by Beeban Kidron, a film director who said children’s online safety is “too vital to leave to the government.”. To a lawyer rewriting Instagram’s privacy policy so kids and parents can have a meaningful talk about privacy. All commendable efforts but I don’t think it would make a dent. The reality still is that it takes 2.3 seconds for an average (adult) consumer to accept terms of service and sign away the rights to their first born. This behavior is unlikely to be changed by any activist, government nor lawyer.

Asset

It’s obvious that companies are struggling. It seems they all need to vacuum every little nuance of our digital presence in order to provide their service. Evernote famously had to apologize for its privacy policy providing their robot and employees free reign on your notes. Musica.ly defended it’s handling of young users, as it raced past 40 million users. Security experts warned that Meitu, which is a free download on Google Play and the App Store, requires way more data from users’ phones than is necessary for a simple photo app. Even old trusted toy makers put our most vulnerable at risk. Hackers showed they could access location data about children and steal voice recordings of children through the app that connects to Hello Barbie.

However, 150 experts, that gathered on Data Privacy Day belief you will get control of your personal info. They trust capitalism to be the catalyst for companies to safeguard data. This may not be as naive as it sounds since studies show the stronger a user believes in having understood the privacy policy, the more he or she will trust the company. Making a strong transparent data protection policy and sticking to it may turn it into a company asset.

Now how do you create a credible company? I once read somewhere: “..With over a million prolific ‘writers’, the legal industry is the biggest publisher in the United States, eclipsing the entire media and print publishing industry, according to the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics..”. I doubt we really need “more publishers” to draft unique descriptions of how companies handle user data. Especially, when you can automate it. Here are some generators that can:

Generators

Validators:

Other Legal Documents

Policy

Even though I tried some of the above generators, I still wasn’t satisfied with the output. While my little diva keeps generating more data and exposing more of her digital self, she will never be fully aware of what happens with her data. Worse, since she may not understand, she will never be in control. In order to protect her, I embarked on this journey: to design a way for everyone to stop and take notice of data protection and privacy policies.

First, your data protection policy is not supposed to be a tool lawyers use in court but rather a guide to make your consumer more comfortable with you. Therefore it should not be just text and can be more visual.

Second, only after reading the policy out loud did I become conscious of what I was actually asking for from site visitors. Making it more audible makes it more real.

Finally, not only by acknowledging it as the product owner but as a parent, it dawned on me that our Privacy is Priceless.

My plan: make a video to explain the Legalcomplex Privacy Policy to my little girl. As far as I know, it’s the only such video in existence on Youtube. My hope is more will follow and create Privacy Policy videos. If you do, let the world know by tweeting it to @PrivaCeee.

My plea: explain your data policy to our children. They are the future so watch it!

Protect

My daughter came to me last week showing me a message from one of her apps. It said that the app’s privacy policy had been updated. She looked at me: I know what this is! Is what we have been shooting the video for, right? I said: Yes. She didn’t read it but she did take notice.

Dreams & Intuitions for 2017
1024 435 Raymond Blijd

As I was crunching data for the 2016 year in review, my mind started wandering into 2017. Logically, I felt of swell of predictions and trends. However, I once attempted a prediction and, in my humble opinion, the future turned out to be worse. Instead, I’ll just jot down some of my dreams and intuitions for 2017.

Sharing Slowdown

On October 21, 2014 at 8:34PM,  I quit Facebook and limited my sharing to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium. While I kept my rhythm of a post-a-day and blog-a-month, some of my compatriots slowed down. My Instagram and Pinterest use also dipped near the end of 2016. Even Product Hunting became less exciting since I encountered a bug with their collection feature 1. Recent Twitter struggles and the LinkedIn acquisition indicate I’m not alone in experiencing sharing fatigue. In 2017  I hope we see a (new) network that honestly rewards those who sincerely curate and share original thoughts and links in a world of clickbait & fake news. So I tip my hat to Artifical Lawyer.

Legal Tech Paradox

Let’s face it: the legal industry was pushed off a cliff during the 2009 recession. Technology has only acted as an accelerant to its descent ever since. Some samples of laws left splattered by technology:

  1. Copyright: at odds with the Internet and the music industry never recovered, will Blockchain save it?;
  2. Patents: is stifling innovation and forcing titans like Elon Musk to completely misappropriate it with Tesla or ignore it with Space-X, will Trade Secrets Law help?;
  3. Tax: a chaos of contradictory rules confusing global commerce, giving Apple a €14.5 billion tax headache;
  4. Finance: these laws can’t handle crypto-currency;
  5. Traffic: most laws to become obsolete with self-driving cars;
  6. Labor: in complete disarray in an on-demand economy of Uber;
  7. Property: where laws severely challenge your freedom to use Airbnb;
  8. Litigation: 75% goes to court without a lawyer because even millionaires can not afford it.

I’ll revisit the Evolution of Law series in April to see if the technology is the parachute or the propellor of decline. In any case, Legal Tech may need to strike a balance to Automate the existing legal frameworks but not to perpetuate them. Legal Tech should not strive to protect laws (and lawyers jobs) but rather to protect a fair society.

Another concern is Data. There may not be enough data available to have apps take full advantage of machine learning. Even Apple researchers published a paper on the challenge of too little data. But the legal industry has an extra burden of lot of legal data is locked in layers of laws & ethics. I believe companies should open and automate their contract data to prevent another global economic crisis as concluded by this year’s Nobel prize winners. Governments should release all litigation and legislation data. If they don’t, someone will hack their way to it or use non-legal open data. The inevitable but less desirable outcome will be that non-legal is used to approximate legal and train algorithms.

Voice + Video = Future

It may be just wishful thinking but typing to a Lawbot just isn’t my thing. I would rather be talking to it like Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or Google Assistant. I also rather not be reading texts but listening to it or better yet, watch it come alive. So before the #Docs2Bots revolution takes off, I’ll jumpstart a “Watch my Rights” movement with a PrivaCeee campaign in January 2017.  I’m not alone. Pioneers like TalksonLaw and LegalTechLive by @NickJRishwain are reinventing the video space. I’ll keep adding clips to the LegaLCompleX TV channel. In short, videos may become a better vehicle to deliver a legal message. Be honest, isn’t it more efficient to watch a TEDTalk before you drag yourself thru an entire book on the subject?

This movement isn’t just restricted to videos, but also extends to audio. I’ve seen a rise of podcasts delivering legal advice and insights. Interestingly enough, dispensed by fellow founders rather than lawyers. I also almost exclusively use the “Listen” feature in Pocket for all articles I ‘read’. I’m hoping I can find a equally soothing ‘voice’ on my desktop so I can save and share the audio version of my posts on SoundCloud.

Buzzkill

I hope you have noticed and appreciate the restrain in my using of buzzwords like Innovation, Big Data, Blockchain and AI. This is not to say these trends aren’t relevant but rather they may actually diffuse the debate on what really matters. That they are just means to an end and I’m more concern about the end.

Big Data: The ideas, talent, and apps are available. I believe we are waiting for an uptick in demand and adoption of the inevitable. In short, a culture of acceptance that hoarding data and content will not sustain a business but rather the algorithm to understand it.

AI: Like flying cars, it is the idea so beautiful that it becomes hard to ignore the reality of the evolution of law. That it simply will not matter if computers become as smart as lawyers in knowing the law when these laws become obsolete. That conflicts will be resolved without ever becoming one and disputes may only be entertained by the rich as a spectacle. Just like Tesla’s Autopilot predicted an accident before a human ever could, the rules of engagement in our society will parse like code in a computer rather than prose in parliaments.

 

Ever since Perc I have this thing for intuitions. Premise: mark your inclinations and checked them later. Here goes: in 2017, I dream of viewing unique voices that break laws & traditions to bring us crazy tech without the buzz…and I hope to contribute.

Change = Chance