Schermafbeelding 2015-02-06 om 14.26.38Last month my new book was published with Edward Elgar: have a look at the online version and download the appetizers (the Prefatory Remarks and the first Chapter) here.

The book moves into the implications of the data-driven agency that mushrooms all around us, suggesting this indicates and requires what I have called ‘a new animism’. It describes the threats of pre-emptive infrastructures that function as a unity of action and perception, feeding on our behavioral data aggregated in a distributed non-homogeneous Big Data Space that in turn nurtures an emerging Digital Unconscious. The book ventures into the upcoming onlife world, where the difference between online and offline becomes increasingly artificial. It also reserves a chapter for the Japanese tradition and the way it deals with both privacy and nonhuman agency, suggesting that we have much to learn of other ways of dealing with both. Finally, the books discusses the ends of law, inquiring into its modes of existence, arguing that we cannot take current legal protection for granted, inviting legal scholars to engage with the architects of our new life world: computer scientists, human-machine-interaction designers and developers of new business models.

Looking forward to your comments and reflections! Text by Mireille Hildebrandt

PHAEDRA projectThe PHAEDRA project (Improving Practical and Helpful cooperAtion betweEn Data Protection Authorities) entered a new phase on 15 January 2015. Growing out of the first PHAEDRA project (2013-2015), PHAEDRA II (2015-2017) will identify and develop practical solutions to improve cooperation between data protection authorities (DPAs). Co-funded by the European Union under its Fundamental Rights & Citizenship Programme, the new project will focus on challenges for cooperation arising from the pending European data protection reform and develop strategies and practical instruments for strengthening such cooperation under the new legal framework.

Similarly to the first project, PHAEDRA II is led by Prof. Paul De Hert and his team at the Law, Science, Technology and Society Research Group (LSTS) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB). In addition to VUB’s LSTS, the consortium comprises Trilateral Research & Consulting LLP (TRI), Generalny Inspektor Ochrony Danych Osobowych (GIODO) – the Polish Data Protection Authority, and Universitat Jaume I (UJI), also partners to the first PHAEDRA project consortium.

Moving to the second stage of the project, the kick-off meeting of PHEADRA II took place on 20 January 2015, on the eve of the 8th Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference (CPDP, 21-23 January 2015). The consortium was fully represented at the meeting, including the PHAEDRA project officer Ms Lilian Shah. The PHAEDRA II project will run until 14 January 2017.

Further information on the PHAEDRA II project can be found at and @PHAEDRAproject.

Robot Since Karel Ĉapek’s play Rossum’s Universal Robots (1920), and Isaac Asimov’s first story on the “three laws of robotics” (1942), science fiction has paved the way for scholarly analyses on the multiple ways in which the design and construction of autonomous machines may affect pillars of the law and, vice versa, how legal rules can restrain the behaviour of such machines. Because most of these robots are not a simple sort of “out of the box” machine, their behaviour will crucially depend on the ways individuals train, treat or manage them. From the viewpoint of the robot-centred HRI (human-robot interaction), different types of contacts with humans, robot functionalities and roles, much as requirements of social skills, will affect the flow of information that individuals deem appropriate to reveal, share, or transfer, in a given context. From the stance of the human-centred HRI, people’s interaction with robots will increasingly concern the aim to embed legal safeguards into technology, e.g. what scholars dub as the principle of “privacy by design.” The aim of this workshop is to show that the future is here, for several robotic applications, such as tiny drones imperceptibly flying out there, are already impacting both rules and principles of privacy and personal data protection. In light of the new generation of consumer robots equipped with sensors, cameras, GPS, facial recognition apps, Wi-Fi, microphones and more, what Sci-Fi scenario will turn out to be real next?

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