Published: Sept. 12, 2023 By

In August, Vivek Krishnamurthy joined the Colorado Law Faculty as Associate Professor of Law and director of the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic. Krishnamurthy’s teaching, scholarship, and clinical legal practice focus on the complex regulatory and human rights-related challenges that arise in cyberspace. 

Krishnamurthy previously served as Samuelson-Glushko Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa and Director of CIPPIC—the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. In his work, he advises governments, activists, and companies on the human rights impacts of new technologies and is a frequent public commentator on emerging technology and public policy issues. Krishnamurthy earned his Bachelor’s degree at University of Toronto, Master of Philosophy at University of Oxford, and his Juris Doctor at Yale University. 

In this Q&A, Prof. Krishnamurthy sits down with Colorado Law’s Emily Battaglia to share a bit more about his work and 

Thank you so much for taking time to answer these questions, Vivek! To start, I would love to hear about what excites you most about life in Colorado.

VK: My family and I love being active and being outdoors, so we're very excited by all of the outdoor recreational opportunities available to us in and around Boulder. I've been enjoying commuting by bike on Boulder's excellent network of paths, and we've been exploring some of the local hiking trails during the weekends. And when winter comes, you'll most likely find us out on our skis and snowshoes!  

I noticed you have a Master of Philosophy in International Relations from Oxford, how has this background/expertise helped inform your work throughout your career?   
VK: My scholarly and clinical work both grapple with how we ensure the continued survival of the Internet as a global medium for communications with the existence of more than 200 different nation-states that are seeking to regulate it. My background in International Relations (IR) has been helpful to me in understanding the strengths and limitations of using the law to address the many complex governance challenges that arise in cyberspace. At the same time, my IR training reminds me that the law is just one of many tools we can use to regulate shared spaces. IR scholars often focus on the role that norms play in global governance, even when they are not legally binding on individuals, corporations, or states. The idea of developing norms to establish governance in unregulated spaces is one that animates a great deal of my scholarship, and it is also a technique that we've used in clinical projects to shape and improve how actors behave absent binding legal rules. 
I see that you will also be the new Director of the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic, what are you most looking forward to in this role and how has your previous work prepared you for it?   
VK: Let me begin by saying what an honor it is to be succeeding Blake Reid as the Director of TLPC. Blake and his student attorneys made a formidable impact on so many areas of technology law and policy during his tenure, so I feel that I have some big shoes to fill in this new role. Fortunately, I'm able to draw on nearly a decade of experience working in technology law clinics at Harvard and the University of Ottawa as I attempt to do so!  
There are so many things that excite me about my new role, but two things stand out. The first is the opportunity to work directly with so many amazing Colorado Law students. I worked with Blake and his team on several projects at my previous institutions, and I was consistently impressed by the excellence, diligence, and resourcefulness of the TLPC student attorneys working alongside him. The second is the opportunity to work together with other clinicians and their teams of student attorneys on projects where we can have a greater impact together. Colorado Law offers an incredible diversity of clinical and experiential learning programs, so I'm looking forward to advancing the public interest in tandem with my colleagues.  
Can you share a bit about any current projects you are working on right now?   
VK: Absolutely! On the clinical side, TLPC is continuing to work with a number of disability rights groups on ensuring that new communications technologies – such as videoconferencing and secure messaging services – are fully accessible. We’re preparing amicus briefs in several important intellectual property and technology law cases before the federal courts, and we're also advising an NGO in the global south that is working to counter proposed legislation that, if enacted, would impose a draconian regime of internet censorship in that country. 
On the scholarly side of things, I am very excited about finishing an article in progress that draws lessons from some oft-ignored areas of international law to resolve the question of who has jurisdiction to regulate different aspects of the internet. I also have a project in progress that explores whether the same techniques that have been used to improve labor practices in supply chains could be used to regulate the growing trade in personal data, while we wait for the enactment of stronger data privacy laws in the U.S. and elsewhere.  
What is your proudest career accomplishment so far? 
VK: I'm most proud of the opportunity I've had to shape the lives of my students. For me, teaching is the most meaningful aspect of my work as a law professor, and it's an incredible feeling to see my students grow, thrive, and make an impact in the world. Some of my students have argued important cases before the courts, or helped their organizations make important decisions under challenging circumstances. Others have contributed to giving voice to the voiceless or pioneered new ways of thinking through their scholarship. Watching my students flourish is a reward unto itself, but I'm also pleased to have my work as a teacher recognized with two awards from my previous institution (the University of Ottawa)—including one awarded in memory of my late colleague, Ian Kerr, whose humane and compassionate approach to teaching continues to inspire me.