Digital Transformation of Decision-Making

A research initiative of the Amsterdam Law School

Affiliated Projects

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Living Lab Quantum and Society
(Quantum Delta Netherlands network)

The Living Lab Quantum and Society is a network where businesses, governments, societal organisations, scientists and citizens come together. There can be immense societal benefits as quantum technologies potentially alter our daily lives, in areas such as medicine, energy and finance. However, these disruptive technologies also pose significant societal risks related to security and privacy. The Living Lab Quantum Society approaches research and innovation by placing the societal impact and benefits as a starting point. The Lab aims to develop ethical, legal and societal standards and guide the development of quantum technologies and their applications to the benefit of society.

Joris van Hoboken and Joran van Apeldoorn are part of the Lab, focusing on the legal and ethical areas of quantum technologies.

View more about the project here.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) Observatory

The Digital Services Act (DSA) legislative package will set the terms for the relation of European democracies with dominant digital platforms for the coming decades. The goal of the DSA Observatory is to provide independent input and coordinate engagement on DSA proposals by the University of Amsterdam research community, as well as our broader network of platform regulation experts in academia and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society. 

This initiative is led by Ilaria Buri and Joris van Hoboken.

Digital Platforms and the Digitisation of Expression and Surveillance

The research project examines the troubling wave of regulation sweeping across Europe targeting public expression on online platforms, the role of platforms in the facilitation of government surveillance, and how platform practices shape information dissemination. As such, the project casts a light on how platforms’ specific digitisation processes affect public expression and surveillance, which can, in turn, be leveraged by governments for restricting free expression and surveillance purposes. The project approaches the questions from a unique interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together law, political communication, and surveillance studies to outline the issues emerging in relation to platform-government cooperation in Europe.

The Digital Platforms and the Digitisation of Expression and Surveillance project is a one-year study that started in January 2021. It received research support funding from the Global Digital Cultures RPA following the 2020 Call for Applications.

The project’s interdisciplinary approach involves three researchers across three different disciplines at the University of Amsterdam: Ronan Fahy (Senior Researcher, Institute for Information Law), Judith Möller (Assistant Professor for Political Communication) and Rocco Bellanova (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research).

View more about the project here.

Data after death – Research into post-mortem digital assets
(Digitale nalatenschappen)

The Data after Death (Digitale Nalatenschappen) project researches the legal aspects of digital inheritances. Virtually every surviving relative will be confronted with issues relating to access to and management of online ‘assets’ after death. The use of social media and other online communication services by citizens is commonplace. The use of the internet, social media and other platforms is also rapidly normalising among older citizens. The intelligent lock-down associated with the COVID-19 virus and the transition to the 1.5-metre society will undoubtedly accelerate this trend towards the intensification of our online lives. In addition to intellectual property, privacy, data protection, other legal aspects are implicated, such as the contractual terms and conditions applied by providers of information and communication services, and inheritance law issues.

This six-month study, started in July 2020, is commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, will result in recommendations on possible adjustments to the Dutch regulatory framework with a view to the adequate protection of private and public interests in the regulation and management of postmortem digital assets.

The is a joint collaboration between the Institute for Information Law (IViR) and the Private Law department of the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam. The team consists of experts across different legal disciplines: Prof. Barbara Reinhartz (Inheritance Law), Prof. Chantal Mak (Property Law and Fundamental Rights), Prof. Marco Loos (Consumer Law and Contract Law), Dr. Jef Ausloos (Data Protection), and Prof. Mireille van Eechoud (Information Law, research lead).

The role of digital technologies in the COVID-19 exit strategy: Assessing legal, ethical and societal conditions

The research project focuses on the role of digital technologies in a COVID-19 exit strategy with a particular focus on the legal, ethical and societal conditions. Digital technologies are an important part of strategies to manage the pandemic and the exit strategy. Examples range from automated data mining, digital self-reporting to apps for contact tracing. The recent discussion on contact tracing apps in particular has also raised an important question, namely how can we steer clear of technological solutionism and implement new technologies in a way that is effective and at the same time respects fundamental rights and the need for democratic control?

This is the question that this research project will address. It concentrates on the question of which legal, ethical, and societal conditions need to be fulfilled for the use of digital solutions in managing the exit period in the corona crisis. The research starts with mapping the possible technological solutions and expectations and concerns associated with the use of digital technology and is followed by an in-depth analysis on legal and societal conditions of implementation. Moreover, a longitudinal survey will be used to monitor people’s perceptions, expectations of, and experiences with apps and other digital technologies, in managing the crisis.

The project was commissioned by ZonMW as a so-called “urgent research question” project, and is a combined research effort of researchers from the Digital Transformation Initiative at the Faculty of Law, and the Research Priority Area ICDS (Information, Communication & The Data Society) at the University of Amsterdam.

It is led by Prof. Natali Helberger, Prof. Claes de Vreese, Prof. Joris van Hoboken and Prof. Mireille van Eechoud and assisted by an interdisciplinary research team from the Institute of Information Law (IViR), the Amsterdam Law School and the Amsterdam School of Communication (ASCoR). The project also involves a core group of experts from the various fields of SSH, medicine and technology and research institutions across the Netherlands. The research is designed towards maximum transparency and a wide dissemination of the research findings. Next to informing policy making today, the research will draw lessons from the COVID-19 crisis for the future role of digital technology in solving societal problems.