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Gender, Technology and Law Session: Gianclaudio Malgieri on vulnerability and gender in data protection

Location: Online
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The Gender, Technology & Law initiative is happy to announce a new series of online sessions to take place in October, November and December 2020. 

The third online session of the new cycle will be animated by Gianclaudio Malgieri on 15 December 2020, 12:00-13:30 Brussels time. The introduction will be given by LSTS researcher Olga Gkotsopoulou.

Speaker's Bio:

Gianclaudio Malgieri is an Associate Professor of Law & Technology at the EDHEC Business School  in Lille, where he conducts research at the Augmented Law Institute.  He obtained a PhD in Law at the Law, Science, Technology and Society of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he is Affiliated Researcher. He is member of the Editorial Board of Computer Law & Security Review (Elsevier) and Law&Business Journal. He conducts research on data protection, GDPR, vulnerable data subjects, automated decision-making, privacy and fundamental rights, data ownership, intellectual property, consumer law.

He received the 2020 Future of Privacy Award. He is also Attorney at Law and external expert of the European Commission for the ethics and data protection assessment of research proposals. He was Training Coordinator for the Brussels Privacy Hub.

He got an LLM with honours at the University of Pisa and a JD with honours at S.Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa. He was visiting student at the LSE, World Trade Institute, École Normale Superieure and Oxford University. He authored more than 45 publications including articles in leading international law reviews, the Italian Handbook on the GDPR and the editing of a special issue of CLSR. He is peer reviewer of CLSR, IDPL, Federal Law Review, Big Data and Society, etc.

Session description:

Reflections on Data Subjects' Vulnerability from the feminist perspective

"Who is the data subject?" is a question that few data protection scholars tried to reply so far. Apart from formalistic replies, the question implies some deeper analyses: "Do the "characteristics" of the data subjects matter when interpreting the GDPR principles, rights and accountability duties? Should we consider some special categories of data subjects?" And - more importantly - "who is a vulnerable data subject?"

The notion of subject's vulnerability is an emerging topic in many different fields. While in the data protection field the discussion is not mature yet, we could get important inspirations from other fields. One area of inspiration is political philosophy and, in particular, the feminist approach and gender studies.

We can observe a real intellectual polarization in those fields: from one side the universalist approach of many gender scholars (Butler, Fineman, Dodds, McKenzie), from the other side the particularistic approach of several other bioethicists or feminist scholars (Cole, Goodin). According to the first approach, every human is vulnerable, and any additional "label" of vulnerability can lead only to stigmatisation and "pathogenic vulnerability". According to the second approach, some subjects are more vulnerable than others (in particular, women are more vulnerable - i.e. subject to adverse effects - than men in many contexts: workplace, education, etc.).

A third way might be the "layered" theory of a feminist bioethicist (Luna): where the contextual and relational (even temporary) nature of vulnerability is a proposed solution. But how to put it in practice? This is an open issue that the seminar will try to address in the follow-up discussion.

Gender, Technology & Law Sessions:

This session is part of the Gender, Technologies & Law Sessions, a collaborative initiative of the Law, Science, Technology and Society Research Group (LSTS) and the Fundamental Rights Centre (FRC) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The initiative aims at investigating the intersections between gender, technology and law through an interdisciplinary approach. Outcomes of these investigations but also more explorative debates and open questions are presented in a series of seminars, both by internal and external speakers. For more information on the series, see here.

Other sessions:

  • Tuesday 27 October 2020, 12:00-13:30 Brussels time

    • Petra Molnar on immigration, Iris-Scanning, and iBorderCTRL: The Human Rights Impacts of Migration Control Technologies
  • Tuesday 24 November 2020, 12:00-13:30 Brussels time

    • Sara De Vido on online violence against women


The sessions are free to attend but registration is required. To register, please follow this link. Should you face any difficulties with your registration, please send an e-mail to Olga Gkotsopoulou (LSTS) or Carlotta Rigotti (FRC).

You can find the poster of the sessions here: pdf fileGTL Sessions October - December 2020 (328 KB) .


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