Vrije Universiteit Brussel has established the Chair in Fundamental Rights and the Digital Transformation to contribute to a better understanding of the European regulatory approach to the transformation of society because of digital technologies and their use in various sectors. Internet-based services play an ever more important role in the organization of economic, social, cultural and political life. The resulting digital transformation of our societies provokes significant developments in applicable legal and regulatory frameworks, including the protection of fundamental rights.

The Chair is established at the interdisciplinary Research Group on Law Science Technology & Society (LSTS) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) under the academic supervision of director prof. dr. Paul de Hert.


The scientific research carried out by the chair will be grounded within the field of information law and policy, while engaging in conversation and collaboration with other and related scientific disciplines, international stakeholders and fields of expertise, including European law, human rights law, media and communications science, social science, computer science, data science and engineering; policy makers and experts, governmental stakeholders and regulatory bodies, civil society and industry.

The aims of the Chair will be achieved through scientific research, the dissemination of such research through publications, participation in conferences, policy events and scientific and expert networks; the supervision of PhD research positions; the organization of events and seminars in collaboration with the staff of LSTS and other experts and scholars in the fields; contributing to the shaping and strengthening of research agenda’s in the field.

Chair type




Chair holder: prof. dr. Joris Van Hoboken

Prof. dr. Joris van Hoboken is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary expert in the field of information law and policy, with experience working in academia, the public sector and civil society. His research addresses law and policy in the field of digital media, electronic communications and the internet, with a focus on the fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression and transatlantic relations and developments. He is a specialist in European and international data privacy law, the regulation of government surveillance in the context of internet-based services, and the legal frameworks for internet intermediaries and algorithmic governance on platforms.

Van Hoboken obtained graduate degrees in Law (2006, University of Amsterdam, cum laude) and Theoretical Mathematics (2002, University of Amsterdam, cum laude). In 2012, he obtained a PhD from the University of Amsterdam (Institute for Information Law). For his PhD thesis, titled ‘Search Engine Freedom. On the Implications of the Right to Freedom of Expression for the Legal Governance of Web Search Engines’, he received the prestigious thesis award of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. During his PhD Research, he was a Visiting Researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University (2008).

Van Hoboken is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR), Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam and an Affiliate Scholar at the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School. Previously, Van Hoboken was a Microsoft Research Fellow at the Information Law Institute (ILI) at New York University, (2013-2016), a Visiting Scholar at the NYU Stern Center for Business & Human Rights (2015-2016) and a lecturer at CornellTech (2016). From 2007-2017, he served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Dutch digital rights organization Bits of Freedom (Chair from 2010-2016), where he previously served as one of the co-directors (2006).

Recent publications include an exploration of the implications of agile software developments for privacy governance (‘Privacy After the Agile Turn’) and an analysis of the implications of big data for regulating the collection and use of personal data, in comparative perspective (‘From Collection to Use in Privacy Regulation? A Forward-Looking Comparison of European and U.S. Frameworks for Personal Data Processing’). Van Hoboken is a regular speaker at international events and conferences and has conducted research for the European Commission, UNESCO, the European Parliament. His work has been covered in national and international news outlets.

Academic promotor: prof. dr. Paul De Hert

Prof. dr. Paul De Hert is a full-time professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and associated professor at Tilburg University. He is a human rights and law and technology scholar working in the area of constitutionalism, criminal law, data protection and surveillance law.  He is Director of the Research Group on Fundamental Rights and Constitutionalism (FRC), Director of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Law (Metajuridics), Co-Director of the Brussels Privacy Hub and Co-Director of the Research Group Law Science Technology & Society (LSTS).  He is an associated-professor at Tilburg University where he teaches “Privacy and Data Protection” at the Tilburg Institute of Law, Technology, and Society (TILT). He has written several reports on behalf of the European Parliament and the Commission and often delivers talks at various gatherings, such as the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications, and the Council of Europe Committee on Data Protection, among others.