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Bert-Jaap Koops. Ph.D. from Tilburg University. Professor of Regulation & Technology at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT).
Distinguished Lorentz Fellow (Sept 2016 - June 2017)
Is it possible to translate legal rules into technology design in such a way that privacy is incorporated into the next generation of socially responsible technology? Can we connect concepts from the legal world (such as proportionality, lawfulness, private sphere) with concepts in technology design (such as default settings, granularity, access rights), in a way that works?
This research project argues that, to preserve privacy in the 21st century, we must embed protections within both law and technology. Not only does law lag behind in regulating the technologies of the 21st century, it also cannot realistically deal with the myriad of ways in which people can be observed, profiled, and judged by ubiquitous monitoring and data-processing devices. ANPR cameras follow your car on highways; smart televisions and smart toys register what happens in your living room or bedroom; drones snoop into your backyard; people sneak pictures of you in awkward poses with their camera phone; and in 5-10 years, you can be identifiable by anyone using a facial recognition app on a smartphone, anywhere. In light of a rapidly evolving technological landscape, privacy becomes harder to protect. Current laws will not stop these developments, nor do they offer up-to-date protection; the settings in technology itself are also needed to mitigate the privacy impact of ubiquitous data recording and processing.
This is why "Privacy by Design" (PbD) has become a widely supported concept; it will even become mandatory in Europe soon (under the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation). But there are very few real-life cases in which Privacy by Design has really worked, so far. Is it possible to translate legal rules into technology design? Is it possible to protect privacy in technology?
This project will integrate legal scholarship with research in computer science, robotics, industrial design and Human Computer Interaction, and contribute to long-term collaboration between researchers in these areas. The goal is to connect concepts from the legal world (such as proportionality, lawfulness, private sphere) with concepts in technology design (such as default settings, granularity, access rights), in a way that works. This is not one-way traffic, or mere translation of legal rules: technology-embedded protection will also reflect on how legal norms themselves are interpreted, conceived, and shaped.
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