It is equally true of both law and technology that there are few areas of modern life they do not touch. Indeed, if law is said to underpin all facets of our personal, working and educational activities, this is equally true of technology, which is increasingly encroaching on all aspects of our daily lives.

Despite this significant degree of overlap, however, the law has traditionally been viewed as somewhat of a laggard when coming to grips with technology. The rise of pervasive digital technologies, platforms and services that impact and inhabit all facets of our lives has brought this into sharp relief.

Perhaps this growing gap between law and technology is due to the very nature of law and technology themselves. In contrast to digital technology, which is characterized by rapid, explosive, iterative growth, the growth and evolution of law is characterized by slow, gradual reform. The processes by which law is created – either through legislative reform or judge-made law in the courts – typically takes years to be completed. And even if a new law is passed by a government, there could possibly be a gap of a few years before it can be tested by the courts.

In one sense, there is good reason for this, as most times when a new law is passed to address some issue, it is not intended as a short-term, stopgap solution. Instead, it is most often intended to be in place for many years, if not decades, to come. Lawyers and legislators will often spend years drafting new laws that will be able to take into account not only the state of digital technology as it exists today but also what it might look like in years and decades to come.

Crypto, trust and casinos

Cryptocurrencies are a good example that illustrates the tension between the rapid pace of digital technological change and legal form. Despite being created all the way back in January 2009 by the mysterious cryptographer Satoshi Nakamoto, it is only in recent years that governments and legislators across the world have begun to properly respond to and understand cryptocurrencies. India, for example, has only just started to properly regulate the use of cryptocurrencies through a   proposed legislative framework  that will address these new digital currencies.

India is not unique in being so slow to respond to a technology that has been in common, everyday use for over a decade. The laws and regulations surrounding cryptocurrencies such as   Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies  are still quite primitive.

This is despite the fact that cryptocurrencies are used by millions of individual users across the globe for a variety of tasks and in a wide range of sectors. One industry that has been particularly quick to embrace cryptocurrencies is the online casino and gambling industry, who were some of the earliest adopters of blockchain currency. Cryptocurrency integration comes as standard in many online casinos in 2021.

The nature of crypto lends itself well to the casino industry for a number of reasons. Firstly, anonymity. Much as with lottery winners, being publicly known to be the winner of a large jackpot can often come with issues in your personal life. Secondly, security. People feel more inclined to give online casinos their crypto wallet than their bank accounts. And thirdly, the speed of withdrawal. Without having to use traditional lines of payment, deposits and withdrawals can be done in a fraction of the time.

These online casinos tell us much about how the technology can be integrated into the payment systems and methods of these types of casinos with relative ease. This is, of course, despite the fact that cryptocurrencies are still markedly under regulated compared to other payment processes. This is undesirable, as more regulation would do much to boost consumer faith in the technology and increase its uptake.

Data farming

Cryptocurrencies are only one area of our social lives in which law and regulations lag behind the rapid development of digital technologies. Across our digital lives, a similar story can be told. Recently, at a   commission convened by the UK Government ,  politicians and industry experts alike told a similar story of the law failing to keep pace with technology. In this context, it was the failure of existing competition law frameworks to adequately deal with and respond to the commercial structures and activities of digital services firms, such as the many social media giants, which typically don’t rely on a traditional fee structure to generate revenue. Instead, these digital titans harvest users' data, which can then be used to conduct targeted advertising.

In both of these examples, a similar story is told of legislators and regulators failing to keep pace with the meteoric development of digital technologies and their role in our lives. The unfortunate reality is that in circumstances where tech firms can change their entire business structure and operation overnight with a single line of code, legislators are always at risk of falling behind the evolving business practices of these players. Whether we will be able to bridge this gap, however, remains to be seen.