LegalTech 2014 Opening Keynote With Jason Thomas

The LegalTech Day One Keynote with Jason Thomas of Thomson Reuters was intriguingly titled “TOR, Bitcoin, Silk Road and the Anonymous Web: Drugs, Bombs and Murder-for-Hire”. If that wasn’t enough to bring me into a crowded conference room filled with legal technology types, there was also tasty coffee.

All kidding aside, Mr. Thomas’s presentation was a great start to the 34th annual ALM Legal Technology show. Jason Thomas is the Chief Innovator at Thomson Reuters.

Jason started his session with a William Gibson quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

He asked the crowd to raise their hand if they did not have a mobile device – there were no takers. The illustration of the change in technology with examples like Google Now and how it aggregates your likes and anticipates your needs. Giving up personal privacy for the convenience of tools like these has to be a conscious decision. Jason showed the negative side of technologies and also spoke to how tools could be used for positive purposes.

The hidden web via TOR allows for browsing of dangerous and horrible criminal content (human trafficking of people of all ages, buying and selling death and weapons, alternate identification available for purchase, the silkroad and the anonymous availability of drugs.

How do people pay for these underground services? Bitcoin – the first decentralized currency, though often used for unconscionable transactions, also provides for the ability to send money to people anywhere in the world who are in need with no regulatory interference. All of the benefits of an anonymous currency without the tracking and regulation of the legitimate financial market.

Thomas’s wound up his presentation with the admonition that we need to know what is happening with technology advances. Crime as a service is as available as software as a service. If Moore’s law (power of IT will double every 24 months) is true, what smaller faster cheaper thing will scare us next?

The world is amazing and nobody is happy. Get some tech happy and the latest information to scare and amaze you by following #LTNY14 on twitter.

UPDATE: An alternate (ok, suggested) twitter hashtag for LegalTech is #LTNY.


  1. David Collier-Brown

    A tiny niggle: bitcoin is trackable, but the persons it passes through have to consent to being identified by id number. This is used to prove one paid for something, which is necessary for such a currency! That suggests a court can also order someone to divulge their number, given a proper reason.

  2. David Collier-Brown

    I *love* “crime as a service”. It perfectly encapsulates some of the Adobe-phishing services I mentioned in the NSA fable.

    Thank you, Mr Thompson and Ms Mireau for enhancing to my vocabulary!

  3. You are correct David. Bitcoin can be tracked, but the private id number adds a layer of complexity that makes for easy use for unethical transactions.