Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) launches website on COVID-19 and data protection law

Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) launches website on COVID-19 and data protection law

"The protection of personal data is more important today than ever"

The protection of personal data in times of crisis is a hot issue. What data do we need to collect, and who can access it, share it, use it? What is the role of public authorities and businesses? What can they do with it, and how to make sure individuals are aware of what is happening to sensitive data about them? Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) has set up a website tracking key developments about data protection law in the current coronavirus crisis, in Europe and beyond:

Data-driven initiatives can clearly play a key role in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak, but they must comply with essential data protection safeguards. Any other approach would be just like distributing protective gear that does not meet established safety standards: a fake, dangerous solution”, says Prof. Gloria González Fuster.

LSTS initiative aims at facilitating the follow-up of rapidly developments in this area by collecting guidance from global data protection authorities, but also from many other stakeholders, as well as academic writings, news and blog posts. It is constantly evolving as public authorities across all continents urgently consider a variety of data-driven measures to monitor the outbreak, enforce related measures, or just to accompany the increased relevance of digital activities, be it for leisure, work or education, in times of lockdown.

The objective is to contribute to current debates and offer a useful source of information for researchers and the interested public to be informed about how the various COVID-19 data measures and the protection of personal data are related. The website is open to everyone, and LSTS also invites everyone to share relevant information. The initiative inscribes itself in a variety of activities taking place at LSTS around technology and law.


Standard work on European legislation on data protection

International data protection expert at VUB, Prof. Dr. Christopher Kuner, of the research group Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) recently published the co-edited volume ‘The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A Commentary’.  This work has the potential to become the reference for everyone working with the European data protection regime. The book provides current knowledge on how to address difficult questions such as what constitutes valid consent for data processing, how to make companies accountable, how privacy-by-design works and how to interpret the rules on personal data transfers. The editors also intend to update the commentary over the years to ensure that they remain the most relevant work on the GDPR. The book has already been cited by the Court of Justice of the EU, and is also being translated into Chinese.

The commentary is the result of a three-year study by a team of nearly 20 authors. The GDPR commentary published by Oxford University Press was co-edited by Prof. Dr. Christopher Kuner, Prof. Lee A. Bygrave and Christopher Docksey. The assistant editor was Laura Drechsler of VUB.

First textbook on Law for Computer Scientists and other Folk

This month Oxford University Press will publish the first-ever textbook that explains the basis tenets of law and the rule of law to computer scientists and other non-lawyers, with a specific focus on what is relevant for data- and code-driven infrastructures. The author, LSTS co-director Prof. Mireille Hildebrandt, who also has a Chair at a computer science department in the Netherlands, finds it is crucial that initiatives to build and employ data-driven solutions for the corona virus crisis remain within the confines of the rule of law: “as lawyers we need to explain over and over again, why law is pivotal to sustain the checks and balances that empower reliable, testable and contestable solutions. Precisely in times of emergency we need to make sure that those who develop critical infrastructure to prevent catastrophe can be held to account.”


Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS)

Since its foundation in 2003, the interdisciplinary research group Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) has focused on law, science, technology, ethics and society, taking technological developments and their consequences as its starting point.  Although LSTS's core expertise is legal, it also has a strong reputation in the fields of legal theory, philosophy (of law, of science and of technology) and is particularly concerned with criminological (surveillance and security), scientific and social studies. The challenges of LSTS include the study and (re)thinking of the constitutive and legal framework of democracies in relation to contemporary scientific and technological developments that seem to confront individuals with irreversible decision-making processes with a major impact on their lives.


More info

Prof. Gloria González Fuster,, LSTS co-director (English and French-speaking).,

Prof. Mireille Hildebrandt, LSTS co-director (English and Dutch)

About Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society. 

Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel