From the Editorial Board

In recent years, the digital economy has been a primary theme in research, evoking the immediate need to establish legally justified mechanisms of state control over the activities of digital economy stakeholders. The analysis of legal regulation of digital relations becomes a strategic goal, inherent to state policy in ensuring the security of the entire modern world and bringing the activities of the Russian subjects of digital economy into correspondence with the effective international standards.

In this sense, our journal is unique. The editorial board and the team of authors include the leading European experts in regulation of digital economy. The research and practical edition is co-founded by the Association of Russian Diplomats which directly contributes to the implementation of the stated goal.

The research into legislative regulation of legal relations in digital economy is quite timely in the light of the 2017 recently adopted regulatory and legal acts. In May 2017, the President of the Russian Federation approved the Strategy for the Development of the Information Society in 2017-2030, and on July 28, 2017, the program “The Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” [1] was approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation. Exploring the legal nature of relations arising in connection with the emerging digital ecosystems in Russia, the expert and research community reached a consensus on the need to regulate the digital ecosystem as a strategic element of economy due to the specifics of the current legal system in Russia.

As part of the strategy and the program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation”, digital technologies will be actively implemented in all spheres of life, with relevant amendments introduced into legal regulation. From robot automation of some industrial sectors and using blockchain technologies in state governance, introducing smart contracts and moving to electronic circulation, to resolution of global challenges the humankind has faced for several decades (e.g. greenhouse effect or limited drinking water resources), the digital economy era is a promise for a new better world. As stated, the program is aimed to significantly increase the level of the social welfare and raise the competitiveness of our state. To achieve these goals, all developed countries are also dealing with the matters of digital economy, and some aspects (e.g.  regulation of cryptocurrencies) even acquire a supranational significance. Being a global trend, modern digitalization is indispensable as one of the key vectors in our country’s policy if we are seeking Russia’s development and well-being.

Amendments to the legal framework for regulation of digital economy can only be possible following a comprehensive inter-disciplinary research into the new phenomena introduced by the digitalization era, definition of their nature and place within the existing system. The legal status of stakeholders in digital ecosystems is determined by the two components: firstly, their roles in  legal relations transferred onto the digital environment (e.g. seller and buyer of a product in an online shop, client and provider of services, author of a literary work and consumer of digital content, tax payer and tax authority, personal data operator and personal data subject etc.); secondly, their roles in legal relations in the digital environment as such (e.g. the operator of telematics communication services and subscriber, provider of trusted services and customer, hosting provider and user etc.).

In the first case, the legal status of participants of digital economy is regulated by the classic sector-specific legislation (the Civil Code, Tax legislation, the Customs Code, banking legislation, legislation on education etc.), therefore any additional or amended rights of the digital economy participants in legal relations need to be regulated by sectoral legislation (e.g. the Tax Code of the Russian Federation includes specialized provisions which regulate the procedure for using  electronic invoices, which differs from the procedure of using paper documents, administrative provisions prescribe different procedures for submitting a paper and an electronic application etc.). In the second case, the legal status of the subjects of digital economy is regulated by acts which can be conventionally called ‘specialized’, regulating the infrastructure of digital economy, including the legislation on communication, legislation on regulating data circulation and private data protection and other information with restricted access. These laws precisely should stipulate the rights and obligations of participants of the legal relations which exist exclusively in the digital environment, as well as the general rights and obligations of all participants of the digital environment related to information circulation and the use of the digital communication channels.

Members of the legal community in Russia and other countries are actively involved in the process of legal regulation of relations arising in digital economy. This is manifested in conferences, forums and round tables dedicated to digital economy, and the growing interest to themed seminars and professional development courses. The working groups are actively collaborating on the resolution of issues already present in the digital environment. Thus, the legal regulation of the emerging digital ecosystem and its operation needs to be based on a comprehensive approach to digital legal relations as a socio-technical system where the new technologies are no more considered only from the computing and software standpoint; rather, these will constitute a comprehensive phenomenon, an ecosystem comprised of its own subjects and objects, and the relations between them.  These goals can be implemented only with involvement of research concepts into the legal regulation process and theory-based consideration of the challenges in this sphere.

The planned themed sections of the journal include: state regulation of digital economy; legal regulation of cryptocurrency and mining; aspects and perspective of crowdfunding; legal regulation of Big Data systems; blockchain technology and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Copernicus, Ethereum etc.); interests and controversy in using blockchain in Finance; financial technologies in the effective Russian and international legal field; digital technologies in intellectual property and innovation; the legal status of smart contracts; protection of rights and legal interests of participants of digital markets; information security; legal nature and specifics of regulation of industrial Internet Consortiums.

Each issue of the journal will include a wide range of aspects related to the digital economy. In particular, it is planned to look into the methodological grounds of legal regulation in digital economy, legal regulation of participants (subjects) in the processes of digital economy, research into the specifics of legal status of civil law objects in digital economy, specifics of digital transactions, state regulation of the digital economy, introduction and application of stimulating measures in social interaction, the legal support of information security in digital economy and other aspects.

The Editorial Board hopes that this research and practical edition will contribute to the development of modern concepts of legal regulation in digital economy within the legal framework in Russia, and also on an international scale.

Vladimir Sinyukov, Vice-Rector for Research, Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL), Honoured Researcher of the Russian Federation, LL.D., Professor.

Мaria Egorova, Chief Editor of the journal “Law and Digital Economy”, LLD., Professor of Competition law Department of Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL)

[1] Order of the Government of the Russian Federation of 28 July 2017 N 1632-р On approving the program “Digital economy if the Russian Federation” // Collection of Legislation of the Russian Federation of 07.08.2017, N 32, art. 5138