picture by rachel carter (@flickr)

picture by rachel carter (@flickr)

An international study examining the obstacles faced by citizens in accessing their personal data has found serial malpractice and obfuscation on the part of public and private sector organisations when citizens seek clarification of what these organisations know about them. The study was led by the University of Sheffield and investigated 327 organisations in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom. It forms part of the IRISS (Increasing Resilience in Surveillance Societies) project, funded by the European Union. It documents the actual experience citizens have when trying to use the law to access their data.

European and national laws give citizens the right to know how their personal data is used, shared and processed by private and public sector organisations. The study, encompassing citizen interactions with 327 sites, found that what should have been a straightforward process was complex, confusing, frustrating and, in the end, largely unsuccessful. The research sites were chosen based on a consideration of the socio-economic domains in which citizens encounter surveillance on a systematic basis: health, transport, employment, education, finance, leisure, communication, consumerism, civic engagement, and security and criminal justice. The study’s executive summary, policy brief, meta-analyses and individual country reports can all be accessed here.

picture by emilio garcía (@flickr)

picture by emilio garcía (@flickr)

Renata Salecl, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law a the University of Ljubljana, and Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, will give a presentation titled “Law between Neuroscience and Psychoanalysis” onn Monday 23 June 2014, at VUB (7 pm – 9 pm, room 4B 302). The talk is organised by LSTS in the context of VUB L&C talks. To register, please contact: Evenementen.rc@vub.ac.be.

On 6 MayPhaedra 2014, the second workshop on “Challenges and barriers for cooperation and coordination between DPAs” took place as a side event to the 55th meeting of the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (IWGDPT), the so-called Berlin group (5-6 May 2014, Skopje). Members of the PHAEDRA consortium presented the results of the project so far, and representatives of Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) gave short presentations. The agenda is available hereA news video is available here.

On 9 May 2014, the PHAEDRA project published part 2 of the second deliverable, titled “Legal reflections for further improving cooperation between data protection authorities”. The report reflects on the instruments for cooperation between DPAs, the independence of DPAs and other possible elements that could improve current practices of cooperation between DPAs. It also provides lessons from legal areas other than data protection. The report was produced by Professor Dr. Paul De Hert and Gertjan Boulet, researchers from VUB-LSTS. The full report is available here.

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picture by ricardo liberato (@flickr)

picture by ricardo liberato (@flickr)

Corporate transparency is crucial, but it must also become more meaningful is the title of a contribution by LSTS members Paul De Hert and Dariusz Kloza to the blog of The Privacy Surgeon, where they outline the growing trend to transparency and argue why such information must move from being merely “available” to being “meaningful”. Check it here.

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picture by paul capewell (@flickr), art by SLM art

Following last year’s revelations, Edward Snowden seems to be trapped in a role ironically reminiscent of another famous character – George Orwell’s Big Brother. Read the full text on ‘Edward Snowden: the last Big Brother?‘, by Gloria González Fuster and Rocco Bellanova, at Opendemocracy.net’s ‘Joining the dots on state surveillance in Europe‘ series.

9783319050232The book ‘The Emergence of Personal Data Protection as a Fundamental Right of the EU‘, by LSTS researcher Gloria González Fuster, has been published by Springer. The work explores the coming into being in European Union (EU) law of the fundamental right to personal data protection. Approaching legal evolution through the lens of law as text, it unearths the steps that led to the emergence of this new right, throwing light on the right’s significance, and revealing the intricacies of its relationship with privacy. More information at Springer.

routledgeThe edited volume Histories of State Surveillance in Europe and Beyond which is co-edited by LSTS researcher Rosamunde van Brakel is out now with Routledge! The volume includes chapters by LSTS researchers Rosamunde van Brakel on ‘The emergence of identity cards in Belgium and its colonies’ and Lucas Melgaço on ‘Brazilian universities under surveillance: Information control during the Military Dictatorship (1964-1985)’. Table of contents and more information about the book and how to order can be found here