Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Data, Privacy & Empowerment

About this Research Area

The Data, Privacy and Empowerment (DPE) unit critically investigates the (dis)empowerment of people within the complex interaction between humans, data and digital technologies. This investigation takes place in relation to privacy, literacy, ethics, accountability and other public values.

The goal of research within the DPE unit is to better understand and intervene in the data agency of people when they interact with digital technologies. To this end, the unit’s researchers employ innovative methods and integrated study ‘on the ground’ of

  • private and professional users (organisations),
  • technological platforms, and
  • policy frameworks.

The unit’s social science research is thus centered around lived experiences of people and organisations when they interact with digital technologies. DPE researchers conduct a socio-technical analysis of digital technologies with a focus on how they are (not) built according to public expectations, legal requirements and ethical standards. To do so, they investigate and develop hands-on tools to enable participatory processes in policy and regulation, taking into account all relevant stakeholders. The aim is always to enhance the agency and literacy of users / citizens / patients / consumers / employees / regulators.

Main themes within DPE research:

  • inclusion, participation and cooperative responsibility of all stakeholders in societal innovations,
  • transparency, explanation, and data literacy around AI projects,
  • data governance and protection in organizations (from SMEs to public authorities and large corporations),
  • citizen involvement in innovation and surveillance in the public sector,
  • societal consequences of platformization and datafication in different sectors (media, health, smart cities, banking and education).

Key Results

Policy Brief
1 Oct 2020
Policy Brief #40: Responsible innovation: the benefit of participatory research design in digital health technology
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Policy Brief
17 Sep 2019
Policy brief #29: PSD2 and other challenges to the protection of personal data in the financial sector
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Policy Brief
24 Jun 2019
Policy brief #28: The Databuzz: Data Literacy for the Data Society
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Policy Brief
22 May 2019
Policy brief #25: Connecting the dots – smarter cities work together
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Policy Brief
19 Feb 2019
Policy brief #23: Salvaging European media diversity while protecting personal data
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Policy Brief
5 Mar 2018
Policy brief #15: De GDPR…en wat dit voor Vlaanderen betekent
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