LeADS ITN: Crossroads – Interviews available on YouTube

LeADS Project is thrilled to share that our brand-new YouTube video playlist on the LeADS Crossroads is now available.

Through the categorization of the relevant legal and technical interests into a consistent spectrum, LeADS Crossroads offers a collaborative and interdisciplinary methodology to explore the challenges that need to be addressed in data-driven societies. The four Crossroads of the LeADS project are the following and can be watched:

Crossroad 1 – Privacy v. Intellectual Property

Crossroad 2 – Trust in Data Processing

Crossroad 3 – Data Ownership

Crossroad 4 – Empowering Individuals

Putting a Price Tag on Consumer Data: Commercial Practices at the Intersection of Data and Consumer Protection Law

Consumers who logged into their Facebook account over the past weeks were surprised by a notice informing them that: “You need to make a choice to continue using Facebook. Laws are changing in your region, so we’re introducing a new choice about how we use your info for ads (…)”. Consumers subsequently had to choose between either using Facebook ‘for free’ but with personalised advertising. Or, paying for a monthly subscription without seeing ads when using Meta’s services. What had happened? In short: the European Court of Justice had decided (Case C-252/21, see in particular para 150) that Facebook needed consumers’ consent if it wanted to use their data for its advertising model. If consumers refuse to grant consent, Meta cannot use their data for advertising purposes.

The notice by Facebook, however, immediately caught the attention of data and consumer protection associations and reflected tendencies and tensions in the regulation of the data economy that have been emerging over the past years. First, the tendency of data and consumer protection law to potentially complement each other in protecting consumer data. For example: does the notice by Facebook constitute an aggressive and misleading practice under the Unfair Commercial Practice Directive as it continues to advertise its services as ‘free’ – even though consumers grant access to their data in exchange? Second, is the ‘pay or consent’ model introduced by Facebook putting a price on consumer privacy which is ultimately enabled by consumer law which perceives data as ‘counter-performance’ (i.e. payment) in a contract?

Facebook’s notice thus reflected again why the interaction of consumer and data protection in their approach to the regulation of the data economy is a particularly interesting field of research. Whereas both have the potential of complementing each other in their objective of protecting consumer data, both might potentially contradict each other, in particular, when consumer law facilitates the commodification of personal data which stands in stark contradiction to the fundamental rights rational of European Data Protection Law.

This tension constitutes a main research focus of ESR Onntje Hinrichs. In his recent paper on “Consumer Law as Second Vantage Point for the Protection of Consumer Data – Protecting or Polluting the Privacy Ecosystem?” he precisely analyses how both fields of law might complement as well as contradict each other in the regulation of the data economy. His paper has been published in the and is available on the Journals Website. An abstract of his article is published below:

Creating a coherent regulatory framework for the European data economy constitutes a daunting task when data regulation increasingly touches on different fields of law. Whilst the regulation of data is anchored in European data protection law, it is turning into a key concern for European consumer law. Since individuals who consume goods and services in the digital economy are typically “consumers” and “data subjects” at the same time, authors and policy-makers have identified complementarities between both policy areas over the past decade. Building on these discussions, this article offers a new perspective on how both fields of law interact in their approach to the regulation of consumer data. By drawing parallels with debates that surrounded the uneasy relationship between consumer and environmental policy, it shows how the regulation of consumer data under consumer law not only contributes to the protection but also the pollution of the privacy ecosystem. At the same time, this analogy is used to showcase how existing tensions between both policy areas can be overcome.

LeADS Conference on Data Ethics and Governance

The LeADS project is organising a conference, titled “Data Ethics and Governance: Unravelling the Complexities of Privacy, Fairness, and Access in the Digital Era“, in a hybrid mode at U-Residency (VUB Etterbeek Campus) on Monday, 15th January 2024. For the remote participation, you may join us here.

Below you can find the detailed programme:

14:00 – 14:05 Welcome and introductory remarks

Prof. Dimosthenis Kyriazis, Dept. of Digital Systems, University of Piraeus

Panel 1: Challenges and Opportunities in Fair Machine Learning, Data Access, and Governance 

14:05 – 14:15 Introduction

Chair: Prof. Giovanni Comandé, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna

14:15 – 14:35 The Flawed Foundations of Fair Machine Learning

Robert Poe (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) and Soumia El Mestari (University of Luxemburg)

14:35 – 14:55 Measuring data access and re-use in the European legal framework, from GDPR to Data Act

Tommaso Crepax (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna), Mitisha Gaur (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) and Barbara Lazarotto (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

14:55 – 15:15 Data Collaborative with the use of Decentralized Learning

Maciej Zuziak (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), Onntje Hinrichs (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and Aizhan Abdrassulova (Jagiellonian University)

15:15 – 15:35 Discussion


  • Dr. Laura Drechsler, KU Leuven
  • Dr. Katarzyna Poludniak, Jagiellonian University
  • Prof. Gabriele Lenzini, University of Luxemburg 

15:35 – 15:50 Q&A

15:50 – 16:10 Coffee break

Panel 2Data Privacy, Minimization, and Governance in Personal (and Sensitive) Data

16:10 – 16:20 Introduction

Chair: Prof. Gianclaudio Malgieri, University of Leiden

16:20 – 16:40 Contribution to data minimisation for personal data and trade secrets

Qifan Yang (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) and Cristian Lepore (University of Toulouse III)

16:40 – 17:00 Transparency and relevancy of direct-to-consumer genetic testing privacy & consent policies in EU

Xengie Doan (University of Luxemburg) and Fatma Sumeyra Dogan (Jagiellonian University)

17:00 – 17:20  From Data Governance by Design to Data Governance as a Service

Armend Duzha (University of Piraeus), Christos Magkos (University of Piraeus), and Louis Sahi (University of Toulouse III)

17:20 – 17:45 Discussion


  • Prof. Elwira Macierzyńska-Franaszczyk, Jagiellonian University
  • Dr. Arianna Rossi, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna
  • Dr. Afonso Ferreira, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • Prof. Michail Philipakis, University of Pireaus

17:45 – 18:00 Q&A

Participation is free and open to all.

We are looking forward to sharing our research and having fruitful discussions surrounding our project.

Navigating the Data Sharing Dilemma: ESR Barbara Lazarotto at Global Data Law

On December 07-08, 2023, Barbara Lazarotto attended the Global Data Law Conference Series: Comparative Data Law, a conference that addressed the critical role of data as a central and versatile resource in the 21st century, shaping the competitiveness of economies and societies. Co-organized by the University of Passau Research Centre for Law and Digitalisation (FREDI) and the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, the conference emphasizes a contextual and decolonial comparative law approach, considering cultural, economic, and infrastructural dimensions of data governance. The event is the final installment of a three-tier conference series on Global Data Law, contributing to a broader research agenda on Global Data Law and policy.

Barbara presented her research titled “Unlocking Data Sharing Dilemmas: A Comparative Analysis of Business-to-Government Data Sharing Laws and the European Data Act Proposal”, a presentation that aimed to explore the delicate balance between sharing and accessing privately held data by governments and the data monopolies held by big tech companies.

Her presentation focused on examining the intricacies of business-to-government data sharing, drawing parallels between the structural choices found in existing United States municipal rules and those outlined in the EU Data Strategy. Barbara explored The Data Act’s proposal of compulsory data-sharing hypotheses for local governments, particularly municipalities, to address the unequal distribution of data benefits. She highlighted the strong resistance from the private sector, mirroring similar debates in the United States where various cities implemented business-to-government data-sharing rules.

Barbara’s presentation also delved into the potential advantages of redistributing data value to society. She emphasized the opportunity to challenge the status quo and break down data monopolies, creating a more equitable system where the benefits derived from privately held data are shared with the broader community. This exploration was identified as crucial for policymakers seeking to strike a balance between fostering innovation and protecting individual privacy.

The conference proceedings will be published by Springer Verlag in the series „MPI Studies on Intellectual Property and Competition Law“ in 2o24.