Thomas Wischmeyer

Thomas Wischmeyer is a DAAD Visiting Fellow at NYU Deutsches Haus, as well as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Staatswissenschaft and Legal Philosophy (Freiburg University), Germany. Thomas graduated from Freiburg Law School first in class, for which he was awarded the “Konrad Hesse Prize”. During his studies in Freiburg, Lausanne and Krakov, he specialized in criminal law and interned inter alia at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. In 2010 he received his Second State Exam following two years of clerkship at the District Court and the Public Prosecutor in Freiburg, at an international law firm and at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

After his exam, Thomas continued to work at the Bundesverfassungsgericht for the President of the Court Professor Andreas Voßkuhle before starting his academic career at the Institute for Staatswissenschaft and Legal Philosophy. He spent the spring semester 2012 at Yale Law School as a visiting doctoral researcher and received his PhD in legal and constitutional theory summa cum laude from Freiburg University in 2014. In his dissertation he shows how law can be conceptualized in terms of agency and – collective – intentionality. His current research focuses on the role of law in the information society and in particular on the emerging paradigm of ‘information security’.

Thomas is the author of three books, including ‘The costs of rights: The fiscal dimension of fundamental rights’ (Mohr Siebeck , 2015) and most recently ‘The centrist constitution’ (forthcoming in 2016, co-authored with Andreas Voßkuhle), and has published articles on a wide variety of topics from European and German constitutional and administrative law, constitutional theory, legal methodology, and information law. Thomas has taught classes on constitutional law, fundamental rights and administrative law. He has received several scholarships and awards for his undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Research Project

Regulating Information Security. Towards a Transnational Order of Information Security While information security is widely considered to be one of the most pressing problems of our time, it is far from clear how public actors can contribute to making IT systems, products and networks safe. In my research project, I want to understand why the existing legal regime fails to provide for an adequate level of information security and how it can become more effective without compromising (supra-)national constitutional rules and principles. To this end, I first reconstruct the legal regime of information security governance: Currently, there exists a large body of rules governing information security risks. This complex, partly transnational regime and the “hybrid” nature of some of the institutions involved in rule making make a global and pluralist account of information security law (ISL) necessary. Second, I identify and analyze the main challenges faced by information security governance as well as their implications for effective rule making. These challenges include the non-territorial architecture of the Internet, the important role and dynamic development of technology in this field, the dialectical relationship between information security and fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy, and the lack of trust in public authorities as far as the regulation of “digital” matters is concerned. Third, I seek to evaluate how information security governance can manage the tension between effectiveness and legality. In the absence of an international legal framework, it is mainly national and supranational constitutional law that legally structures information security governance. I analyze whether and how constitutional obligations are affected and, eventually, transformed when confronted with the pluralist and transnational rule making processes in which ISL is embedded. All in all, the project uses ISL as a lens to analyze general questions and challenges for regulation in the information age.