ESR Aizhan Abdrassulova attends to “International Scientific and Practical Conference of Young Scientists”

On May 20, ESR Aizhan Abdrassulovapresented her research online at the Conference “International Scientific and Practical Conference of Young Scientists” in Ternopil, Ukraine with the topic “Data Ownership”. Aizhan explored the concept of data ownership, and its potential risks, and benefits, including data privacy and security concerns. Aizhan’s work was well-received by the audience who appreciated her insights and contribution to the conversation on data ownership.

Additionally, during the months of May to June 2023, Aizhan completed her first secondment at the Vrije Universiteit subBrussel (VUB). The period at VUB provided Aizhan with valuable exposure to the academic community and allowed her to establish professional connections with other researchers in her field. During her secondment, she had the opportunity to collaborate with experts in her area of interest and further develop her research skills. She also had the chance to explore the city of Brussels and immerse herself in the local culture, which gave her a broader perspective on social and scientific issues. Through her participation in numerous scientific events, conferences, and seminars, Aizhan expanded her knowledge and gained new insights into the latest research findings and developments. Overall, her first secondment was a highly enriching and rewarding experience that helped her to grow both academically and personally.

Last, in June 2021, Aizhan attended a seminar organized by Professor Fryderyk Zoll in Osnabrück, Germany. The workshop was specifically aimed at doctoral students from the University of Osnabrück. Aizhan presented to the attendees about her Ph.D. research as well as spoke about the “LeADS” project. Her contribution was received with keen interest and prompted lively scientific discussions with fellow doctoral students in attendance. The opportunity to interact with fellow scholars from Osnabrück was extremely enriching, and this interaction facilitated the sharing of knowledge, opinions, and perspectives that would help to shape subsequent research activities. The seminar was an excellent forum for young researchers to enhance their understanding of each other’s work, build social networks, and open up opportunities for future collaborations.

ESRs presenting their research at ACM FAccT

ESRs Maciej Zuziak, Onntje Hinrichs and Aizhan Abdrassulova collaborative work got accepted for this years’ ACM conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAccT) that was held in Chicago from 12-15th of June 2023. Maciej Zuziak presented their article on “Data Collaboratives with the Use of Decentralised Learning – an Interdisciplinary Perspective on Data Governance” during a paper session dedicated to Privacy.

In their collaboration, the ESRs combined their different research interests in law and machine learning, which enabled them to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on challenges posed by different approaches to data governance. The predominant part of the current discussion in EU data policy is centered around the challenging task of creating a data governance framework where data is ‘as open as possible and as closed as necessary’. In their article, the ESRs further elaborate on the concept of data collaboratives powered by decentralised learning techniques as a possible remedy to the shortcomings of existing data governance schemes.

Data collaboratives have been described as new emerging forms of partnerships where privately held data is made accessible for analysis and where collaboration between participants is facilitated to unlock the public good potential of previously siloed data. [1] They thus fit well the EU policy shift that has taken place over the past years. Whilst for decades, the introduction of exclusive property rights was discussed as a potential tool to empower data subjects with regard to ‘their’ data and to facilitate the emergence of data markets, this changed with the 2020 European Data Strategy. Now, the potential of the data economy should be unlocked by facilitating data access and sharing. The authors presented their concept of data collaboratives powered by decentralised learning techniques, which can be used as a tool to reach the goals of the current EU data strategy: facilitate access to data while protecting privacy and intellectual property interests which individuals and companies might have with regard to ‘their’ data. The collaboration between the ESRs thus reflected the idea behind the LeADS project that solutions to existing tensions in the data economy require an interdisciplinary perspective from both law and data science.

The paper can be accessed in the Digital ACM library via this link.


[1] 2020. Wanted: Data Stewards – (Re-) Defining the Roles and Responsibilities of Data Stewards for an Age of Data Collaboration


Participant Insights: ESR Xengie Doan Reveals the Top Highlights of CPDP 2023 Conference

I attended CPDP 2023 and found two events very interesting and pertinent to my thesis topic regarding user-centered digital collective consent for genetic data sharing in the EU.

First, I attended a workshop on Wednesday about the Trustworthy (re)use of health data endorsed by the EHDS organized by The European Institute for Innovation through Health Data  ( i~HD).

Maria Christofidou from i~HD presented about consent the types of consent that were growing in the field, though they did point out that the EHDS does not endorse a specific type of consent, but instead suggested other legal bases for processing data. This was especially interesting to me as I am working on another model of consent, collective consent, which might be at odds with the EDHS as it currently stands. However, the speaker was unsure if consent would be replaced by other legal bases or if it would still continue to be used, but also have other legal bases as stated by the EDHS.

Then, the second speaker presented issues with data quality to make the data reusable. It was a manifold issue with only a few aspects that could currently be objectively measured, such as uniqueness (lack of duplication) while concepts like trustworthiness or representativeness were much more conceptual and difficult to be measured with current tools.

The workshop then proceeded to certification measures from the i~HD and a lively conversation with people working in complex multinational health data-sharing efforts who were unsure about the usefulness of the EDHS for facilitating easier data sharing, as it seemed to only add EU certifications on top of specific national requirements (which were sometimes at odds).

Another very interesting panel was the Privacy Engineering for Transparency and Accountability organized by TU Berlin on Thursday. This panel was full of great speakers, talks, and questions so I would highly recommend watching the recording, as this will only summarize a small portion of the panel. Transparency-enhancing technology was presented by Elias Grunewald from TU Berlin called TILT. This is a tool to scan policies for relevant transparency requirements in a machine-readable format for developers to use, which could then be translated to related privacy icons, dashboards, plugins, and more. These are interesting for my research because I am interested in enhancing transparency in digital collective consent tools that can adapt to both institutional governance and developer needs as well as user needs. Thus such a flexible system enabling different interfaces is very relevant.

Some other very interesting speakers spoke about the new offerings for privacy technology including Privado, and adversarial transparency to investigate a company’s actual practices when they are obscured (e.g. Meta).


16th Computers, Privacy & Data Protection – CPDP Conference in Brussels

From 24– 26 May 2023 the 16th International Conference “Computers, Privacy & Data Protection – CPDP” took place in Brussels, Belgium, offering cutting-edge discussions in legal, regulatory, academic, and technological development in privacy and data protection. LeADS was present in panels and activities during the three days of the Conference.

Prof. Paul De Hert, one of LeADS supervisors, gave the Conference’s opening speech, introducing the new activities and the main topics discussed in 2023, such as the EDPB elections and the future of data protection in Europe in the face of recent EU Regulations.

Following the introduction, LeADS collaborator, Arianna Rossi of the SnT University of Luxembourg was one of the speakers at the panel “Measuring dark patterns and their harms: A multidisciplinary, Antecipatory Perspective”, organized by one of LeADS beneficiary Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability, and Trust (SnT), University of Luxembourg (LU), exploring the harms posed by dark patterns – such as the cookie banners – and how to address them. Arianna was also a workshop facilitator at the workshop “Personalised Privacy; How can we leverage personalisation for better privacy protection?” organized by Maastricht University, Law and Tech Lab.

On the second day of the Conference, LeADS ESR Barbara Lazarotto was a panelist at a panel on “The Underuse of Personal Data, Its Opportunity, Costs, and EU Policies” organized by the University of Turin, which focused on how the underuse of personal data can pose risks to society, such as hindering technological development of health research.

Other LeADS ESRs Fatma Dogan, Soumia El Mestari, Onntje Henrichs, Xengie Doan, and Aizhan Abdrassulova also attended the Conference, where they had the opportunity to join in interesting discussions on their research topics.