Seeking legal boundaries of digital home in the IoT age: A conceptual reflection

Bo Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Home has a special status in human private life and modern law. Recent technological developments like increasing digitalization, connectivity, smartization, and automation, have made fundamental changes to our home environments and home life. What appears before us now is not only a perpetually digitally connected hybrid home that is totally different than a traditional home, but also, a possible digital home that only exists in virtual spaces and can in many ways function as a traditional physical home. However, there appears to be no clearly defined (virtual) home boundaries that can function like a traditional proxy to define the boundaries of the digital home in law, continuing to protect the sanctity and inviolability of the home as before, which leads to uncertainty in current law. It has become critically important to find new feasible home boundaries that can separate the digital home from the outside world. The paper argues that a pure ‘digital home’ that is geo-location free and device independent can be possible and may exist in the online environment in view of the quick deployment of cloud computing and IoT technologies. This digital home as a virtual container is characterized by mobile, mosaic and individual (private) nature, spreading over the internet, and thus differs much from the modern home configurations. New home (virtual) boundaries that can play the role of legal proxy include some key security measures used by home occupants (at the moment) to exercise control over the virtual home space (cross-platform, cross-service), such as identification and authentication measures associated with the home occupants’ service accounts, as well as encryption, and firewalls under certain conditions. It argues that it is the best to grant ‘home protection’ to the digital home for the time being under the current legal home protection framework, rather than formally accepting the new home concept which is still immature in view of current technological developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalEJLT: European Journal of Law and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • Digital home
  • legal boundaries
  • home protection
  • privacy
  • data protection
  • home spaces
  • legal proxy


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