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.

ESRs Soumia Zohra El Mestari & Fatma Sümeyra Doğan new publication

ESRs Soumia Zohra El Mestari and Fatma Sümeyra Doğan, along with Dr Marietjie Botes, have recently published a paper at the Privacy Symposium: Data Protection Law International Convergence and Compliance with Innovative Technologies proceedings that delve into the technical and legal aspects related to the reuse of health data when repurposing machine learning models in the EU. The paper titled “Technical and Legal Aspects Relating to the (Re)Use of Health Data When Repurposing Machine Learning Models in the EU” not only examines the impact of machine learning technologies but also focuses on specific concepts, such as “knowledge transfer,” and assesses their potential implications within the context of emerging EU legislation, including the Data Governance Act and EHDS proposal.

The objective of the research is to provide insights into the use of machine learning models in the healthcare sector, particularly in light of the increasing volume of healthcare data being generated. The paper highlights the challenges and opportunities related to the (re)use of health data, the ethical and legal implications associated with the use of such data and the potential benefits that can be achieved by using machine learning models to analyze healthcare data.

Overall, the paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the technical and legal aspects associated with the (re)use of health data and machine learning models within the EU. The research findings are relevant for policymakers, healthcare providers, and researchers who are interested in the latest developments in the field of machine learning and healthcare data analysis.

The paper can be read here

ESR Barbara Lazarotto at Conference “Public Governance and Emerging Technologies”

On January 11-12 2024, ESR Barbara Lazarotto presented her research at the interdisciplinary international conference on ‘Public Governance and Emerging Technologies: Values, Trust, and Compliance by Design’ in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The Conference explored the use of emerging technologies in public governance and how this deployment can be done in a legally, ethically, and socially acceptable way.

Prof. Barbara Prainsack gave a keynote at the Conference


Barbara presented her research on the topic of “The Role of Technology in Citizens’ Right to Good Administration: Examining the Impact of Smart Governments”. She explored the growing trend of “smart government,” where technology, including information and communication technologies (ICT) and artificial intelligence (AI), is extensively used to enhance public administration, collecting and processing large-scale data with the main objective of improving efficiency and reducing costs. Despite justifications based on the right to good administration, concerns arise regarding the impact on citizen autonomy and privacy. Her paper explores the concept of “smart governments,” analyzing common technological practices, such as nudging and sensorization of public environments.

Barbara’s work will be featured as a chapter in a book exploring the topic of technology and public governance to be published late in 2024.

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

The Conference by the title ”Data Ethics and Governance: Unravelling the Complexities of Privacy, Fairness, and Access in the Digital Age” is scheduled, in the framework of the LeADS Project, for Monday 15th of January 2024
from 14:00 to 18:00 CET in Blvd General Jacques 271, 1050 Brussels

It is also possible to join the Conference online. No registration is required. Please check the QR code for the Webex meeting in the flyer of the Conference LeADS_Flyer Conference 15 January 2024 Brussels _F


ESR Aizhan Abdrassulova participation at the IBMEL-23

ESR Aizhana Abdrassulova attended the 32nd International Conference on Business, Management, Education & Law (IBMEL-23) held in Istanbul from September 5-7, 2023. The conference was organized by the International Centre of Excellence in Education, Business, and Management.

During the conference, Aizhana presented a paper and made an oral presentation on the topic “Data ownership does not work?”. The article was already published, and Aizhana discussed the challenges and inconsistencies of the data ownership approach. Her presentation was well received by the audience, which included many professionals working with data.

Aizhana’s presentation focused on the modern approach to data ownership that prioritizes convenience for the data subject and control over their data. She expressed her views on the topic, highlighting the need for a better understanding of data ownership issues and the importance of ensuring data privacy and security.

The conference had an interactive format that allowed participants to engage in discussions and exchange their ideas and views on the topic. The conference was an excellent opportunity for Aizhana to connect with other professionals in her field and learn about the latest advancements and trends related to data ownership and management.

ESR Louis Sahi at 26th IEEE International Conference on Computational Science and Engineering


From 1 to 3 November 2023, the 26th IEEE International Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE-2023) was held in Exeter, United Kingdom. The conference provided three days of relevant presentations by researchers on complex data-based applications in science and engineering.

On 3 November 2023, the last day of this conference, the CSE-2 & iSCI: Computational Engineering session took place. This session aimed to bring together researchers and practitioners to address the challenges of complex big data computing, such as heterogeneity, and to provide a forum for presenting and discussing new ideas and trends in this highly challenging research area. During the session, Louis Sahi presented his paper entitled “Towards Reliable Collaborative Data Processing Ecosystems: Survey on Data Quality Criteria”, in which he collaborated with Romain Laborde, Mohamed-Ali Kandi, Michelle Sibilla, Giorgia Macilotti, Benzekr Abdelmaleki, Afonso Ferreira. In this study, they reviewed the existing data quality criteria in the literature to propose a general standardization of these data quality criteria (DQC). Indeed, this systematic literature review shows many discrepancies between the names of DQCs and their meanings. Therefore, they identified 30 DQCs, analyzed them, and proposed a unified and standardized name and definition for each criterion.

The future direction of this work will be to validate these criteria by using them to evaluate concrete data sets. This validation will show their applicability and usefulness in assessing data quality. Finally, Louis Sahi attended enriching panels and keynotes at the conference and received helpful feedback.

LeADS in 2023: Looking Back

In 2022, our 15 ESRs completed the second year of LeADS. They had an intensive training schedule and attended a cross-disciplinary training program on four occasions. They explored their research topics in the four LeADS Crossroads, resulting in an interdisciplinary report on unsolved challenges in the data economy. This report provided the groundwork for their research activities in 2023.

Transforming Research into Working Papers

In 2023, our ESRs were reshuffled into 6 interdisciplinary groups to draft Working Papers (WOPAs). The ESRs collaborated with each other to publish 6 WOPAs, which became the first public deliverable of the LeADS project. Later, the ESRs contextualized their research in six blog posts.

(i) The Flawed Foundations of Fair Machine Learning

(ii) Contribution to Data Minimization for Personal Data and Trade Secrets

(iii) Transparency and Relevancy of Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Testing – Privacy and Consent Policies in the EU

(iv) Data Access and Re-Use in the European Legal Framework for Data, from the GDPR to the Proposed Data Act: the Case of Vehicle Data

(v) From Data Governance by Design to Data Governance as a Service

(vi) Data Collaboratives with the Use of Decentralised Learning – an Interdisciplinary  Perspective on Data Governance. 

Refining the Crossroad Report

The ESRs conducted research in the writing process of WOPAs, which was used to refine the initial Crossroad Report. This new report focuses on stakeholder needs and the ESRs’ research evolution and includes four videos available on the LeADS YouTube channel.

From Theory to Practice: Secondments

ESRs have the opportunity to work with beneficiaries and partners of the LeADS project, including prominent academics and practitioners. Secondments enable them to gain practical experience and adapt their research projects accordingly. Our ESRs engage with academics and practitioners to gain practical experience and adapt their research projects. Each ESR completes two secondments, and seven of them wrote about their experience in a blog post.

(i) Secondments at BY.TE, AGCM, MMI, and University of Luxembourg

(ii) Secondments at UT3, SSSA, and Tellu

(iii) Secondments at AGCM, GPDP, and VUB

Learning Through Playing: LeADS Discussion Games

LeADS is developing discussion board games to make its research on the data economy accessible to the general public. These games focus on controversial issues that have been developed throughout the research process and aim and educate people. The game to raise awareness will be tested for the first time in January 2024 during a conference in Brussels.

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