Academic Training Lectures about Privacy

It’s Platforms All the Way Down”: Understanding Data and Power in the Digital Economy

by Michael Veale, University College London’s Faculty of Laws

Abstract: A feature of the modern digital economy is the “platform” business strategy. But what is this, and how does it work? In this lecture, I will explain different views on what a “platform” is, and why it is crucial to understand the way platforms function and accumulate power regardless of which aspect of the digital world is of interest. We will use the concept of platform to explore issues of privacy and app stores, surveillance and social control, and concepts of software freedom and digital sovereignty. What kind of digital future do we want to create, and how can we encourage this transformation?

Bio: Dr Michael Veale is Associate Professor in digital rights and regulation at University College London's Faculty of Laws. His research focusses on how to understand and address challenges of power and justice that digital technologies and their users create and exacerbate, in areas such as privacy-enhancing technologies and machine learning. He tweets at @mikarv. Longer bio at

Monday, 8 May 2023 -


The Past, Present and Future of Online Tracking

by Michael Veale, University College London’s Faculty of Laws

Abstract: Most users of the Internet today cannot remember an online experience without significant amounts of tracking. In this lecture, I will outline both where we have come from --- how even when the law has arguably kept up, enforcement has been limited and confused --- as well as where we are going. This includes consideration of privacy enhancing technologies used both to prevent and, counter-intuitively, to facilitate tracking. Detailed profiling of individuals for the purposes of personalisation and advertising seems unlikely to go away, but instead to become more computationally complex, as further entwined in platform business models. We will consider the potential technological, legal, and policy responses to these trends, and think through the Internet(s) we might want in the years to come.

Tuesday, 9 May 2023 -


Online tracking - problems and legal remedies

by Stefano Rossetti

Abstract: One of the main features of modern information societies is the vast amount of data exchanged via technological tools. In this lecture, we will take a close look at the types of information potentially involved, the technical tools used to seize it and what happens once it has been received by a third party. We will then clarify how the new privacy frameworks regulate these flows. We will talk mainly about GDPR, the e-Privacy Directive and the AI Act.

Bio: Stefano Rossetti is a qualified lawyer specialising in media law and data protection. After working for a few years at primary law firms, in 2019 he joined noyb - Europäisches Zentrum für digitale Rechte, where he focuses on strategic litigation on unauthorised online tracking, dark patterns and workplace surveillance. Stefano authored several publications and is responsible for the noyb’s ( GdprHub, a free, open-source legal database for users and professionals.

Wednesday, 10 May 2023 -


Online tracking and Freedom of Scientific Research

by Stefano Rossetti

Abstract: One of the main features of modern information societies is the vast amount of data exchanged via technological tools. In this lecture, we will take a close look at the types of information potentially involved, the technical tools used to seize it and what happens once it has been received by a third party. We will then clarify how the new privacy frameworks regulate these flows. We will talk mainly about GDPR, the e-Privacy Directive and the AI Act.

Thursday, 11 May 2023 -


Control your data on the Web: An introduction to Solid and Linked Data

by Ruben Dedecker, Ghent University

Abstract: The Web is dominated by platforms providing functionality from Social Networking to Video streaming and Web Shopping. Using these platforms on a daily basis, we often forget the vast amount of data collected, stored and used, while that data could be useful for other applications as well. To have our data on the Web work for us instead, Solid proposes to separate data storage from application servers.

Solid introduces the concept of “a pod” as an online data space for an individual to control and manage their data on the Web. Pods form a decentralized Solid ecosystem that supports both the integration of user data for applications and services, to direct client-to-client exchange of information. This contrasts with current Web applications, where data must first be collected in centralized data silos, after which they are exposed over platform-specific APIs, with the user at the mercy of the platforms maintaining the data.

To achieve this separation of applications from the storage they use, we capture the context of the data using explicit semantics, such that they can be accurately interpreted and reused in different contexts. Through these semantics, applications can interpret data without requiring specific knowledge encoded in the API over which the data is retrieved. A key driver here is the use of the RDF as the infrastructure for capturing this semantic information. This again contrasts with current Web APIs, where data is served in formats that require additional semantics to be described in the API’s documentation. By shifting the focus to the data and its semantics, we can design decentralized ecosystems that are not limited to the constraints of specific APIs.

Bio: Ruben Dedecker received a M.Sc. degree in Computer Science (2020) from Ghent University (Belgium).  He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree at the Knowledge on Web Scale (KNoWS) team at Ghent University on Linked Data, Public Web APIs and Solid, and leads tasks on cross-app interoperability in the SolidLab Flanders project. He teaches Linked Data and Solid in the Flemish AI Academy courses for for applied sciences in Flanders, and assistant teacher on Web Development and Big Data Science courses at Ghent University.

Monday, 13 March 2023 -


Exploring Scholarly Communication Using The Decentralized Web

by Patrick Hochstenbach, Ghent University

Abstract: In this lecture we present a new approach to assemble the scholarly record of researchers using a decentralized architecture for generating, propagating and notification of artifact lifecycle information in scholarly networks. Scholarly artifacts go through many stages from the creation of artifacts, through the registration of these artifacts in repositories, requesting certification at a publisher websites where they will be peer-reviewed and eventually published, to the archivation in a (web) archive. The results of each of these events are typically stored in different environments that are rarely interconnected. This makes assembling the complete lifecycle of artifacts an expensive post-factum endeavor involving mining many information sources and applying heuristics to combine the information into a meaningful result.

Our Mellon ResearchPod project proposes a researcher-centric, institution-enabled scholarly communication system aligned with Decentralised Web concepts and technologies. In this vision researchers use a personal domain and associated storage space (researcher pod) as their long-term scholarly hub. Using Linked Data Notifications these scholarly hubs communicate with service hubs (such as peer review systems, discovery systems, archives) for the fulfillment of the functions of scholarly communication. The research pod stores all the information pertaining to the artifacts that the researcher contributes to the scholarly record where it can be shared and consulted.

We will look at the current state of scholarly communication and provide an overview of decentralized techniques that will become available in the future that could create a whole new landscape of services and publishing solutions

Bio: Patrick Hochstenbach spent 25 years working for academic libraries in Belgium, the United States and Sweden. He was the developer of the SFX software, currently marketed by Ex Libris, that is used by libraries world wide to provide access to full text articles. He was involved in the OpenURL and OAI-PMH standards for metadata exchange and is part of the programming committee of the ELAG conference: the oldest library conference in Europe. In 2021 he started a PhD research at Ghent University researching application of decentralized web techniques on scholarly publications.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 -


Technology Is Not Neutral: a short guide to technology ethics

by Dr Stephanie Hare

Abstract: On this first day, we will consider the question "Is technology neutral?" and examine a debate between various experts who take different sides on this question. Our aim is not to agree with them (or even with each other!) but rather to map out the different ways we can answer the question and apply it to our lives.

On the second day, we will practice putting technology ethics into action by considering technologies that are used today for their undeniable benefits -- yet which pose serious ethical problems that we cannot afford to ignore. We will diagnose their risks and opportunities and propose solutions, drawing on examples that range from the surprisingly straightforward to those which do not have one solution or cannot be solved only once.

Bio: Stephanie Hare is a researcher, broadcaster and author focused on technology, politics and history. Selected for the BBC Expert Women programme and the Foreign Policy Interrupted fellowship, she contributes frequently to radio and television and has published in the Financial Times, The Washington Post, the Guardian/Observer, the Harvard Business Review, and WIRED. Previously she worked at Accenture, Palantir, and Oxford Analytica and held the Alistair Horne Visiting Fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford. She earned a PhD and MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, including a year at the Université de la Sorbonne (Paris IV).

Monday, 28 November 2022 - Lecture 1/2 -
Tuesday, 29 November 2022 - Lecture 2/2 -


Battling robots for our data, privacy and humanity

by Dr Andrzej Nowak

Abstract: Data-centric automation is at the core of many modern businesses and governments worldwide. It brings cost savings and benefits that not too long ago might have felt like a distant dream. Connecting to other talks in this series, we will think about the realities and consequences of this shift.
How do Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML) and privacy combine, if at all? Can and should robots decide things about humans? Should we be worried about boundary conditions? Are we doomed to give up all our data, or are there privacy-friendly solutions to common data problems?
We'll look for answers to these and other questions - all of which are increasingly raised not just in professional circles, but also in public discourse.

Bio: Andrzej Nowak spent the last 16 years at the juncture of technology, business and innovation. His early experience was rooted in computer security, and shifted to more general domains while working for CERN and at Intel. Between 2007 and 2014 Andrzej worked at CERN openlab - a collaboration of CERN and industrial partners such as Google, HP, Huawei, Intel, Oracle and Siemens – and managed one of openlab’s innovation labs. Andrzej was also part of the openlab CTO office, where he helped set up next-generation technology projects for CERN. After his CERN stay, Andrzej founded a small technology and innovation consultancy as well as a fintech start-up. In the last few years, he worked in management consulting in finance and in innovation management. Andrzej’s current topics of interest include the future of identity, privacy, and money.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 - Lecture 1/2 -
Thursday, 1 December 2022 - Lecture 2/2 -


Your privacy – where has it gone, and will it be back?

by Andrzej Nowak

Abstract: In recent years, a lot has been said about privacy – the rights to it, related transgressions, reasons to worry. It seems like questions are multiplying at a high rate, but the answers are not. Should we be concerned, and if so, about what? Should I defend myself, can I defend myself? From whom? Are we risking fundamental freedoms when using FAANG products? Is privacy the same as anonymity? Is giving up privacy a necessary cost of technological progress? Do I have a choice? Are governments and corporations fighting each other over us or collaborating against us? Is “my phone” truly “mine”?
We propose to examine privacy with a dose of systematization and in three parts. In the first part, we’ll start weaving a story of how we got here. Starting from the baselines, we’ll journey through history, philosophy and world changes – from the concept of walls in a house to identity documents. In the second part, we’ll discuss our current state, where current worries stem from, current developments and options. We’ll look at what surveillance capitalism means for society (techies and non-techies alike), how our cloud, Android and i-devices grew, and will look at the fringes. In the third part, we’ll take a closer look at emerging major trends, future scenarios (dystopian and optimistic alike) and concrete possibilities for reaction or resistance. We’ll also touch on technical topics such as, for example, the war-like evolution of cryptography.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022 - Lecture 1/3 -
Wednesday, 27 April 2022 - Lecture 2/3 -
Thursday, 28 April 2022 - Lecture 3/3 -