European and international data law: Empirical perspectives

ID: MSCA-19-GonzálezFuster01


The Ethification of Privacy and Data Protection-At the interface of ethics, law, ...

ID: MSCA-19-VanDijk01LSTS


LSTS Research Group

The Research Group on Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) was created in 2003 as an independent entity within the Faculty of Law & Criminology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

LSTS began in 2003 with four researchers, based on former work in the area of data protection law and computer crime carried out in the faculty under the leadership of Prof. Bart De Schutter. It currently has over 30 staff, including over 20 academic staff. LSTS has become one of the leading European IT law research centers, and has retained a global focus.

We have awarded numerous PhD degrees, and taken part in many EU research projects either as a partner or as coordinator LSTS has a large senior staff with expertise in international privacy law, social science understanding social and ethical consequences of new technologies, data protection impact assessments, law of the commons, platforms and AI.




The potential of genome editing and the legal status of genome edited organisms.

ID: MSCA-19-VanDerMeer01


Laboratory of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology

Research in the Laboratory of Plant Genetics concerns basic plant molecular genetics as well as applied research relevant to the plant biotechnology and agricultural sector. The research is focused on plant amino acid metabolism, reactions of plants to biotic and abiotic stress factors and improvement of nutritional quality. In our applied research projects, we make use of molecular breeding strategies, including genome editing and transgene technology.

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The normative affordances of literacy, ‘digitalcy’ and computational mediation...

ID: MSCA-19-Hildebrandt01


From the end of lawyers to the end(s) of law

ID: MSCA-19-Hildebrandt02


The new makings of law-on the cusp of legal practice and legal theory

ID: MSCA-19-Hildebrandt03


CoHuBiCoL Research Projects

CoHuBiCoL investigates how the prominence of counting and computation transforms many of the assumptions, operations and outcomes of the law. The research targets twotypes of computational law:

a) artificial legal intelligence or data-driven law (based on machinelearning), and

b) cryptographic or code-driven law (based on blockchain technologies).

Both disrupt, erode and challenge conventional legal scholarship and legal practice. The core thesis of the research is that the upcoming integration of computational law into mainstream legal practice, could transform the mode of existence of law and notably of the Rule of Law. A transformation in the way that law exists will affect the nature of legal protection, potentially reducing the capability of individual human beings to invoke legal remedies, restricting or ruling out effective redress.

To understand and address this transformation, modern positive law will be analysed as text-driven law,enabling a comparative analysis of text-driven, data-driven and code-driven normativity. The overarching goal is to develop a new hermeneutics for computational law, based on (1) research into the assumptions and the implications of computational law, and on (2) the development of conceptual tools to rethink and reconstruct the Rule of Law in the era of computational law. Theintermediate goals are an in-depth assessment of the nature of legal protection in text-driven law, and of the potential for legal protection in data-driven and code-driven law. The new hermeneutics will enable a new practice of interpretation on the cusp of law and computer science. The research methodology is based on legal theory and philosophy of law in close interaction with computer science, integrating key insights into the affordances of computational architectures into legal methodology, thus achieving a pivotal innovation of legal method. CoHuBiCoL investigates the responsible innovation in law, where our research aims to contribute to the innovation of legal method that is on the verge of disrupting and transforming ‘traditional legal method’. Once quantitative legal prediction, argumentation-mining and data-driven case law analysis become standardized tools in law firms, offices of the public prosecutor and in the courts it will be very difficult to reconfigure the ensuing architecture of interacting legal tech applications, especially where new types of regulation are embedded in a blockchain or in other ways that automate their application. In terms of computer science this will create a number of legacy problems and may incur technological debt.

This project is not against replacing legal handwork by automation, depending on which handwork is delegated to machines, how it is done and what checks and balances are built into the new ways of ‘reading’ and ‘speaking’ law. To ensure that both lawyers and tech developers are aware of the new affordances of computational law’s technical underpinnings, the research seeks to conduct most of its analysis at the most fundamental level–confronting text-driven normativity with its new–data-and code-driven–competitors. This will enable the development of new hermeneutics, based on a proper understanding of the compatibilities and incompatibilities of the assumptions of law and computer science, and the implications of incompatibilities for the central tenets of law and the Rule of Law.

By way of example, such a new hermeneutics could force lawyers to face the fragility as well as the strength of ‘the force of law’, which is neither equivalent with enforcement nor reducible to mechanical application of legal rules. It would instigate new ways ofsecuring access to the multi-interpretability, testability and contestability of computational legal systems, based on an accurate understanding of which defaults matter when designing and engineering such systems. Such a hermeneutics will also contribute to the determination of the types of legal intelligence that cannot and should not be mandated to machines, taking into account that law should protect what is not countable or machine readable.

We aim for a foundational impact on legal methodology, in the sense of starting a conversation between law and computer science to prevent uninformed reception of computer science terminology in to the practice and the theory of law. The research will be validated in part by the intermediate focus on legal protection in text-driven and data-and code- driven law. Developing an understanding, on the cusp of law and computer science, of the type of conditions that must be met for computational law to offer genuine and effective legal protection will contribute to testing and pruning the novel conceptual tools as well as the ensuing new hermeneutics. This way the research will also contribute more concretely to the innovation of legal method, for instance by figuring out how the upcoming legal obligation of data protection by design (as an instance of legal protection by design) can be an effective legal condition for legitimate processing of personal data. COHUBICOL is funded from 2019-2024 by the EuropeanResearch Council (ERC).