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Law, Socio-Legal Governance, the Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0: A Middle-Out/Inside-Out Approach

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The Web of Data, the Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0 are converging, and society is challenged to ensure that appropriate regulatory responses can uphold the rule of law fairly and effectively in this emerging context. The challenge extends beyond merely submitting digital processes to the law. We contend that the 20th century notion of ‘legal order’ alone will not be suitable to produce the social order that the law should bring. The article explores the concepts of rule of law and of legal governance in digital and blockchain environments. We position legal governance from an empirical perspective, i.e., as an explanatory and validation concept to support the implementation of the rule of law in the new digital environments. As a novel contribution, this article (i) progresses some of the work done on the metarule of law and complements the SMART middle-out approach with an inside-out approach to digital regulatory systems and legal compliance models; (ii) sets the state-of-the-art and identifies the way to explain and validate legal information flows and hybrid agents’ behaviour; (iii) describes a phenomenological and historical approach to legal and political forms; and (iv) shows the utility of separating enabling and driving regulatory systems.


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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (