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eLaw Research Colloquium 2021; 'Law Gone Digital'

On Friday 10 December 2021, the Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) of the Leiden Law School, hosted its annual Research Colloquium exploring the theme 'Law Gone Digital'. The event gathered presentations by eLaw PhD candidates and professors on a wide range of topics at the interface of law and digital technologies, covering digital public governance, children’s digital rights, space big data and wearable robots. In compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions at the time, this event was held in hybrid mode.

The Colloquium was chaired by Bart Custers, Professor of Law and Data Science and Head of eLaw, who started by giving an overview of the main achievements by the eLaw community. Some of the accomplishments in 2021 include: the annual Meijers prize attributed to Dr Eduard Fosch-Villaronga for his article 'Sex Care Robots. Exploring the potential use of sexual robot technologies for disabled and eldercare'; the participation of Dr Mark Leiser in a winning consortium of €1.5 million Volkswagen Foundation research grant to design interventions to counter microtargeting and false information; the participation of Dr Simone van der Hof in the drafting of the Dutch Code for Children’s rights; the award of EU finding to eLaw as part of the euCONSENT consortium for research on age verification and consent mechanisms; the appointment of the Emeritus Professor Jaap van den Herik as Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau on his retirement as Professor of Law and Information Technology; the award of the Google’s Diverse Copyright Thesis Award 2021 to eLaw Advanced Masters graduate Javier Aleuanlli; the publication by eLaw colleagues in Nature focusing on the legal and regulatory implications of surgery automation, just to name a few. Bart also spoke about the challenges experienced in 2021 with the second wave of the pandemic impacting networking, talks and lectures, praising the resilience of all colleagues.

After that, Friso Selten, a PhD candidate on the SAILS project, presented on 'Artificial Intelligent (AI) Agency: An Organisational Perspective on the use of Artificial Intelligence for public governance'. Friso noted how public organisations are seeking to use AI systems to process data to design public policies and alerted to potential risks of bias and discrimination. Friso is investigating how to avert such risks and to promote the democratic control in the use of AI for public governance.

Dr Simone van der Hof, Professor and Academic Director of the Institute for Metajuridica at Leiden University, presented on developments within the euCONSENT project with a talk titled 'Age Appropriate Design & Age Verification: Mutually Related Concepts'. Simone presented on the practical and legal challenges of age verification, established the main differences between age verification and identification, and raised attention to the legal inefficiency of parental consent across different legal systems in Europe.

Subsequently, Dimitra Stefoudi, PhD Candidate, presented on the 'Legal Aspects of Space Big Data'. Dimitra described big data as the large amounts of data collected, processed and disseminated by means of space technology and explored the legal challenges arising with the use of space big data, the regulatory solutions to overcome these challenges, and the policies to enhance the benefits of space big data.

Finally, Dr Eduard Fosch-Villaronga, Assistant Professor, presented on the developments of the PROPELLING project with a talk titled 'Opportunities and Challenges of Experiments in Regulating Wearable Robots'. Eduard noted how wearable robots are changing rapidly and challenging the adequacy of regulations and explored how robot testbeds may bring regulators and policy makers closer to research and development. 

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