LSTS Doctoral Seminar With Bárbara Lazarotto

On 25 April 2024, 10:00h – 11:00h CET, LSTS member Bárbara Lazarotto will present her PhD research, entitled Business to Government Data Sharing in the EU and the protection of personal data: Making sense of a complex framework’, followed by discussion.

Abstract: Data is a crucial resource that plays an essential role in the economy and society. Yet, due to market failures, data has been often treated as a commodity and held in silos by a few actors, often large companies. In light of recent developments, there have been talks about transferring data from exclusive control of certain groups to making it accessible for public use. The European Union has taken a step in this direction by introducing the “European Data Strategy”, a set of rules and regulations that amongst other objectives, also aimed at making it easier for stakeholders to share data among themselves and with governments. However, this regulatory framework which includes different modalities of business-to-government data sharing is fairly new and the synergy between them is still yet to be seen since many of them may overlap and have possible contradictions.

Against this backdrop, there is a pressing need to analyze the current legal and regulatory landscape for business-to-government data sharing in the EU, how they interact with each other, and their possible consequences for the rights of data subjects. The analysis will delve into the complexities of the regulatory conundrum associated with business-to-government data sharing and explore whether the current framework effectively addresses the data subject’s data protection rights as enshrined in the GDPR. Ultimately, this research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the legal and regulatory landscape for business-to-government data sharing and its connections with data subject’s rights.

 

This event will be in a hybrid format (both on-campus and online).  Interested participants wishing to take part can register by sending an email to Pablo.Rodrigo.Trigo.Kramcsak@vub.be.

The Unexpected Metamorphosis of Data Portability: A Meta-Moth-Phosis

In the quest for a harmonized understanding of data portability, one should appreciate the metamorphosis it has experienced within the European legislative framework. Initially envisioned as a tool to empower consumers by ensuring their control over personal data, the practical implementation of data portability has morphed in unexpected ways, much like a caterpillar’s transformation. However, instead of emerging as the anticipated butterfly, symbolizing freedom from lock-ins and enhanced control, it has taken on the guise of a moth—a “meta-moth-phosis,” if you will. This analogy captures the essence of data portability’s journey from a promising concept to its current state, where its potential for empowering individuals seems overshadowed by a reality that favors corporate interests and operational convenience.

A change in the architecture of data flows

The metamorphosis from a data transfer model envisioned in the GDPR to the current access model in the Digital Markets Act signifies a profound shift. Initially, data portability was envisioned to empower consumers with the ability to move data from one service provider to another. Yet, as this concept evolved, it transitioned towards facilitating easier in situ access to data for businesses, thereby prioritizing usability over individual control. This shift reflects a broader transformation in the digital market’s priorities—from protecting individual rights to fueling the economy with data-driven innovation.

Towards true empowerment

To start realigning the reality of data portability with its original promise, the European regulators need to harmonize legislative definitions with a common conceptualization, and encourage technological solutions that put control back in the hands of individuals. True empowerment would mean allowing users not just to give third parties access to data that current incumbent providershave at their disposal (which they can keep as such!), but to manage access to it comprehensively. This requires a radical rethinking of the digital infrastructure, designing an information system architecture where data hubs are decentralized and controlled by the individuals who can grant or revoke access under terms they set.

Embracing the meta-moth-phosis?

The journey of data portability in the EU highlights the need for a renewed commitment to its foundational goals. As we reflect on the meta-moth-phosis of data portability, it becomes clear that achieving genuine control and empowerment for users requires a precise and specific mixture of legal clarity, technological solutions, economic impact assessments, and special attention to the principles of user autonomy and privacy. By embracing this transformation and working towards a harmonized approach, the EU can ensure that data portability fulfills its potential as a key pillar of a fair and equitable digital market.

In this light, the moth analogy serves not just as critique, but also as a call to action—a reminder that even unexpected transformations can lead to meaningful outcomes if guided by a commitment to user empowerment. The future of data portability, with its complex interplay of legal, technological, and economic factors, holds the promise of a more integrated and user-empowered digital ecosystem, provided we navigate its evolution with care and purpose.

 

This research will be presented at the Privacy Symposium in Venice in June and will be published in their proceedings.

LeADS Lunch Seminars

 

The LeADS Consortium is organizing a series of informative lunch seminars. These seminars will feature a stellar line-up of speakers who are experts in their respective fields. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from and network with these renowned speakers, gaining valuable insights and expanding their knowledge base. The seminars promise to be engaging, thought-provoking, and informative, making them a must-attend event for anyone interested in leadership development. 

“Carbon footprint of digital lifestyles – consumer information, behavioural intentions and demand for regulation” 

Prof. Candida Leone (Associate Professor of Private Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam)

12th of April 2024 – 15:00-17:00

Teams link: Join the meeting now

Invited speaker: Cristina NITA-ROTARU Professor, Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Northeastern University

Title: Network-level Attacks in Federated Learning

Date: 18th April 2024, 16.00 – 17.00

Register here

Invited speaker: Prof. Tao Qian (China University of Political Science and Law)

Title: “AI and Copyright–Comparison between China and the EU

Date: 23rd  of April 2024 between 12:00-13.30 (Teams link: Join the meeting on Teams)

Invited speaker: Prof. Ricardo BAEZA-YATES Professor, Director of Research, Institute for Experiential AI, Northeastern University

Title: Responsible AI

Date: 25th of April, at 16:00 – 17:00 (hybrid)

Register here

ESR Barbara Lazarotto presents her research at Conference Legal Technologies and the Bodies

On March 07-08, 2023, Barbara Lazarotto and her colleague Alessandra Calvi presented their research at the Conference Legal Technologies and the Bodies, a conference that explored the complex relationship between legal systems, technology, and human bodies in this era of rapid technological advancement at SciencesPo Paris. Considering how various modern digital environments, such as surveillance and recommendation algorithms, affect and govern human bodies and behaviors.

Alessandra, who presented the paper co-authored with Barbara named “Breaking Down SyRi: A Feminist Investigation of Automated Discrimination”, an analysis of how the process of datafication and automation of the public sector disproportionally affects women, using the case of SyRi in The Netherlands as a case study.

 

14th Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security

 

LeADS beneficiary University of Luxembourg organizes the 14th Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security, which will be held as a hybrid event at the University of Vienna in Austria on 12th July 2024. The Workshop intends to stimulate an exchange of ideas on how to design systems that are secure in the world where they interact with users of varying lived experiences and diverse needs. STAST aims at bringing together experts working in various areas of computer security as well as in social and behavioral sciences. A call for papers for this workshop has been published and accepts full papers until 15th March 2024. Deadline for the CfP is 25 March 2024 (AoE)

More information and call for papers are available via this link.

ESR Barbara Lazarotto book review

ESR Barbara Lazarotto wrote a book review on ‘Digital Oil – Machineries of Knowing’, by Eric Monteiro for the Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies Tecnoscienza.

In her review, Barbara explores Monteir’s delves into the metaphor of “data is the new oil” to analyze the Norwegian offshore oil industry’s digital transformations. He explores how societal and political decisions have shaped the industry’s evolution, emphasizing the interplay between technology, economics, ethics, and politics. Divided into three parts, the book covers the historical context of Norway’s oil industry, the technological developments driving digitalization, and the implications of datafication on society. Through empirical studies, Monteiro examines various phases of commercial oil activities, highlighting the role of multidisciplinary professionals like data managers in handling and interpreting complex datasets. He also addresses the uncertainties inherent in oil exploration and production as a background for stressing the importance of considering technical and ethical factors in data analysis.

Her review can be accessed via this link.

TILL Workshop in Brussels

2024, the final year of the LeADS project, kickstarted with an intensive three-day meeting packed with a wide variety of LeADS activities. Organized by the LeADS consortium, the activities took place in Brussels on the campus by LeADS beneficiary VUB.

During this packed three days, three distinct events took place, amongst them the Technology Innovation in Law Laboratories (TILL) workshop. Partners of the LeADS project, Indra and the Italian Competition Authority AGCM, provided three cases for the ESRs.

Each case involved real-life cases the company and competition authority were confronted with during their work.

The first case concerned an investigation by the Italian competition authority against Apple for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the App Market. ESRs had to identify counterarguments that Apple could provide in response to the investigation and how the AGCM could further solidify their case.

The second case concerned an investigation by the AGCM against Google for an abuse of its dominant position regarding its implementation of the right to data portability. ESRs had to investigate how commitments by Google had to be updated in order to be compliant with the recently published Digital Markets Act (DMA).

In the third case provided by Indra, ESRs were confronted with the challenge of a cyber security company, that was confronted with a cyberattack against voting machines which had been used during elections. ESRs had to analyze which legal obligations the company had to comply with and which technical vulnerabilities had been exploited during this security breach.

During the first day, the ESRs had to analyze and develop their solutions to the given problem. Reflecting the spirit of the LeADS project, each team involved experts in law and technology in order to develop truly interdisciplinary solutions for each case.

During the second day, ESRs presented their solutions to the partners of the LeADS project and discussed to what extent their solution matched the approach by Indra and the AGCM.

The TILLS gave our ESRs the possibility to not only test their knowledge on real-life cases but also to further develop and test their problem-solving, collaboration, time-management and presentation skills.

Conference on Data Ethics and Governance: Unravelling the Complexities of Privacy, Fairness, and Access in the Digital Age

2024, the final year of the LeADS project, kickstarted with an intensive three-day meeting packed with a wide variety of LeADS activities. Organized by the LeADS consortium, the activities took place in Brussels on the campus by LeADS beneficiary VUB.

During this packed three days, three distinct events took place, amongst them the Conference on Data Ethics and Governance: Unravelling the Complexities of Privacy, Fairness, and Access in the Digital Age.

During two separate sessions, ESRs presented their Working Papers which they have been writing in 2023. Each presentation was followed by a discussion with distinguished academics.

The first panel on ‘Challenges and Opportunities in Fair Machine Learning, Data Access, and Governance was initiated with opening remarks by Prof. Giovanni Comande’. The following three working papers were presented (i) The Flawed Foundations of Fair Machine Learning (ii) Measuring Data Access and Re-Use in the European Legal Framework (iii) Data Collaboratives with the Use of Decentralised Learning. The working papers were subsequently discussed by Dr Laura Drechsler (KU Leuven), Dr. Katarzyna Poludniak, Jagiellonian University, and Prof. Gabriele Lenzini, University of Luxemburg.

The second panel on ‘Data Privacy, Minimization, and Governance in Personal (and Sensitive) Data’ was chaired by Prof. Gianclaudio Malgieri (Leiden University) and consisted of the presentation of the following Working Papers: (i) Contribution to data minimisation for personal data and trade secrets (ii) Transparency and relevancy of direct-to-consumer genetic testing privacy & consent policies in EU (iii) From Data Governance by Design to Data Governance as a Service.

In a following Q&A session, Prof. Elwira Macierzyńska-Franaszczyk (Jagiellonian University), Dr Arianna (Rossi, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna), and Dr Afonso Ferreira (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) further discussed, challenged, and contextualized the work by our ESRs.

Learning Through Playing: LeADS Discussion Games

2024, the final year of the LeADS project, kickstarted with an intensive three-day meeting packed with a wide variety of LeADS activities. Organized by the LeADS consortium, the activities took place in Brussels on the campus by LeADS beneficiary VUB.  The first day of the LeADS meeting kicked off with a playtesting session on discussion games which the ESRs have been developing during the last quarter of 2023.

The ambition of the LeADS project has always been that the dissemination and communication of its results are not only a concern for a highly specialized audience, such as academics and practitioners. Instead, we think that our results are highly relevant and should also be communicated to the general public.

The discussion games thus constitute one of many means of the LeADS project to achieve a wider dissemination of the research of our ESRs to a wider public. Four discussion games, one per crossroad, have been developed and were play-tested for the first time with external participants (students and other researchers from VUB). All game materials for each boardgame are publicly available on Zenodo (see below)

In Crossroad 1’s boardgame ‘Know-IT-All’, players have to answer questions in six categories (Data as a Commodity, Privacy, Curiosity, Intellectual Property, AI, Big Tech) in order to progress through the game board and collect points.

In Crossroad 2’s boardgame ‘Jury Trials’, a role-playing game designed for people with a background in law and data privacy. The context of the game is around defending a company’s public image against attackers who try to destroy its reputation in a specific scenario case.

In Crossroad 3’s boardgame, ‘SynergyLegal: Legal and Technical Challenges around Data Rights’, players have to solve challenges that are connected to the broad topic of data ownership.

In Crossroad 4’s boardgame, ‘Privacylandia’, players take the role of inhabitants of a fictional town. Each player needs to collaborate with at least another player and use his/her knowledge in legal and technological domains to solve challenges that data subjects may face in real life.

European Researchers’ Night in Athens

ESRs Fatma S. Doğan, Armend Duzha and Christos Magkos along with Manolis Alexakis attended the event organized within European Researchers’ Night on 29 September 2023 in Athens. The team welcomed visitors of all ages into their booth and presented details about the LeADS project. Given the project’s focus on the intersection of law and technology, explanatory sheets facilitated the conceptualization of these concepts. The majority of visitors expressed interest in AI developments, making the AI Act the central topic of most conversations. High school students were also intrigued by the backgrounds of the ESRs; the diversity of disciplines represented by the three ESRs captured their attention about potential future careers.

ESRs also had the opportunity to observe the scientific fair, where researchers from various fields presented their projects, proving to be inspiring. The connection with CERN labs stood out as a prominent example. The program provided a valuable chance for ESRs to engage with other researchers.