Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Ine Van Zeeland


Personal Description

My fascination for privacy was sparked by the self-censorship people display on the internet. The internet was once sold as a place where you could truly be yourself because ‘nobody knew who you were’. The key was feeling unobserved: you could pretend to be anyone. Philosophers and psychologists have written volumes about not feeling observed: as we test (moral) boundaries, we learn a lot about ourselves, and about ethics. In lieu of a playground, however, the internet has also been likened to a panopticon, the ideal prison in which inmates always behave, because they may be under observation. This ‘culture of surveillance’ exists way beyond the web; most public spaces are monitored and our smartphones ensure we are under observation wherever we are. Today’s smart technologies undoubtedly offer many benefits, but that doesn’t diminish the anxieties of never being ‘left alone’.

I hold a MA degree in ‘Language, Communication and Information’ from Tilburg University and have over 10 years of experience in university education. My research and interests are related to privacy, data protection, accessibility of digital technologies and data literacy.