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1 or 2 postdoc vacancies will open soon

In near future the INFO-LEG will be looking for 1 or 2 postdoctoral researchers for a period of 18 months to 2 years, starting on or before 1 September 2021. This is an informal preannouncement of the vacancies. Should you be interested in these positions, please make your interest known to Dr Nadya Purtova at n. n. purtova @ tilburguniversity edu.

The postdocs will be working under supervision of the PI of the project, Dr Nadya Purtova, and embedded at the Department of the Law, Technology, Markets and Society, which a part of the Law School of Tilburg University.

The project

The project aims to reinvent the current system of legal protection against negative effects of the data- and information technology-driven harms. In Europe this system is currently embodied in the data protection law (such as the GDPR) and is centered around the notion of personal data: the assumption underlying this system of protection is that if collection and use of personal data are regulated, information-technology related harms will be averted. Yet, using the concept of personal data as a trigger is not without problems. The boundary between data that is personal and not personal is increasingly less clear. Modern data collection and processing techniques as well as the growing spread of their uses across societal contexts (e.g. reliance on data and AI in decision-making by public authorities, policing, marketing) lead to a situation where any information can be personal data. Anchoring legal protection against digital harms in the concept “personal data” is a legacy of legislative choices made in the past, and alternative ways of structuring legal protection are possible.

Given a broad meaning of personal data, a growing range of situations and problems falls within the ambit of data protection law, which is not equipped to deal with them all equally well. Simply narrowing down the concept of personal data would not do (where should we (re)draw the line?). The problem requires fundamental rethinking of the current approach to legal protection.

The project looks to suggest alternative avenues for legal protection which are not conditional on the concept of personal data. We are looking for alternative ideas, concepts, or principles that would allow to restructure legal protection.

Tasks

The first postdoc will contribute to the project by the study of data economy. He/she will conduct theoretical research from the perspective of his/her discipline. The theoretical work will be complemented by the empirical study of data economy in 3 contexts: online advertising, smart grid and smart cities. He/she will be offered a contract of 18 months.

The second postdoc will contribute to the project by the study of data- an information technologies and practices. He/she will conduct theoretical research from the perspective of his/her discipline. The theoretical work will be complemented by the empirical study of data- and information technologies and practices in 3 contexts: online advertising, smart grid and smart cities. He/she will be offered a contract of 18 months.

Provided you meet the qualifications for both positions and wish to research both information- and data practices AND data economy, you should indicate so in your application. In this case, should your application be successful, you will be offered a contract of 2 years.

Prior to applying it is advisable that the candidates get familiar with Dr Purtova’s work, including:

Criteria of selection

  • Academic qualifications: a completed PhD in law & technology (or a defence date set), surveillance studies, STS, philosophy of technology, economics, or another relevant field;
  • Research profile: demonstrable interest in data economy (for postdoc 1) and / or data technologies and practices (for postdoc 2), and their regulation/governance with a view to mitigate societal impacts; affinity with the issues of data protection law is a plus, but not required;
  • Cognitive skills: clear, critical and creative thinking, ability to go against the grain of the mainstream scholarship and question established presumptions;
  • Personal skills: ability to think and work independently, collegiality, ability to deliver results of high quality and on time, communicate effectively, both within a team and towards the academic community.

Application

Once the formal vacancies are open, the interested candidates will be asked to go through the formal application. The following documents should be submitted in support of your application:

  • A CV, including degrees, courses and course grades, relevant projects, and brief description, conference presentations;
  • A motivation letter indicating if you are interested in postdoc 1 (data economy) or postdoc 2 (study of information- and data technologies and practices), or both, explaining how your profile fits the project and how you envisage your contribution;
  • A publication list;
  • A PDF of your most relevant publication;
  • 2 letters of recommendation, with contact details.

The interviews will take place online.