Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Ine Van Zeeland


Personal Description

My fascination for privacy was sparked by the self-censorship people display online. 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: when we feel unobserved, we test our boundaries and learn a lot about ourselves. More recently, however, the internet has been likened more to a panopticon, the ideal prison in which inmates behave because they may be under observation at any time. This culture of surveillance now exists even 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 started my PhD research within the Research Chair on Data Protection On The Ground in 2018. My research interests are related to privacy, data protection, accessibility of digital technologies, and data literacy.