DLF 16/17: Koops

DLF 2016/17: Bert-Jaap Koops
Bert-Jaap Koops is Professor of Regulation and Technology at Tilburg University. He was awarded the eighth Distinguished Lorentz Fellowship and will hold this position for the academic year 2016/17.

Research Project
Privacy by Design: Is It Possible?
Bert-Jaap Koops’ research project will focus on privacy, law and technology. Making two seemingly incompatible worlds meet is always difficult, sometimes impossible, but at times also a necessity. I argue that, to preserve privacy in the 21st century, we must embed protections within both law and technology. This is a twofold challenge.

First, we need to understand what privacy means in the 21st century, as the current and future socio-technical landscape in many respects fundamentally differs from that of the 20th century in which legal frameworks have taken shape. Several assumptions underlying privacy law no longer apply, and legal protection is in urgent need of revision.

Second, law alone cannot realistically deal with the myriad of ways in which people can be observed, profiled, and judged by ubiquitous monitoring and data-processing devices. In light of a rapidly evolving technological landscape with for example Internet of Things (and People), drones, augmented reality and facial recognition privacy cannot only be protected by legal means. The settings in technology itself are also needed to mitigate the privacy impact of ubiquitous data recording and processing. This is why “Privacy by Design” (PbD) has become a widely supported concept. Yet very few real-life cases exist in which Privacy by Design has really worked, so far.

Is it possible to translate legal rules into technology design? And can the design process of technology be made more privacy-sensitive? Privacy by Design is much easier said than done, and one may well ask whether it is possible at all. But we need it, so we must try to make it possible.

Bert-Jaap Koops is Professor of Regulation and Technology at Tilburg University. He researches the interaction between law and technology, with special focus on cybercrime, cyber-investigation, privacy and data protection.

Bert-Jaap Koops