Robotics Workshop Announcement

29 Jun, 2016   | by: and

Two of our contributors, Dr. Christoph Lutz and Aurelia Tamò, are co-organizing with Eduard Fosch Villaronga and Jo Bac a twinned workshop on robotics, to be held in both Barcelona (Spain) and Yokohama (Japan). These workshops take place on 2 and 14 November 2016 and will have the same content and format. Participants can select which workshop they would prefer to attend.


Robots, robots everywhere!*

3 May, 2016   | by: and

We were among the lucky ones chosen to present at the 2016 We Robot Conference and for both of us, it was one of the best conferences we have ever attended. We Robot 2016 took place at the University of Miami and was hosted mainly by Professor Michael Froomkin. From the organization to the speakers: everything was amazing! We won’t address every topic discussed at the conference but we will give you a taste of the topics and point you to some interesting readings in this area. Interested parties should also check out the We Robot website and consider applying for next year’s edition, taking place on March 31 & April 1 at Yale University. More…

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Long Live hitchBOT — How to Deal with Robots and the Ethical Issues they Trigger

3 Sep, 2015   | by: and

The abrupt death of hitchBOT on August 1, 2015 shocked its fans. hitchBOT, the friendly hitchhiker robot, had traveled across Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and some parts of the USA. In Philadelphia, however, the robot was vandalized—a scenario he had not been programmed to deal with. And so his journey ended. More…

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Things that caught our eye

1 ISO Standard >150 $ -> #!@*?

23 Jan, 2015   | by:

(Disclaimer #!@*? translates into: why the heck are ISO standards so expensive?)

I’m assuming that everyone knows or has come across an ISO standard sometime during their research. ISO standards are developed by experts in a specific field. Through a consensus process, together they define generic specifications and guidelines to ensure that the relevant industry leaders adhere to the same requirements of products, processes and services.

With respect to the question, why one single ISO standard is so very expensive, the organization answers as follows:

“Developing, publishing and maintaining ISO standards incurs a cost, and revenues from selling them helps ISO and its members to cover an important part of these costs. Charging for standards allows us to ensure that they are developed in an impartial environment and therefore meet the needs of all stakeholders for which the standard is relevant. This is essential if standards are to remain effective in the real world.” (emphasis added)

The first argument is that costs occur and that the money is needed to cover those “production costs”. This seems like a rather valid point: the creation of guidelines on which industry members can agree upon (through a consensus process) seems like a tedious task. Nevertheless, these costs might have occurred either way. For instance, if the industry leaders did not establish such standards but legislators had, as then extensive lobby efforts are required. And such lobby efforts come at a certain cost too.

The second argument of the ISO is to ensure that they are developed in an impartial environment. Here I think some clarification is necessary, as the argument seems a bit blurry. Why would the consensus processes be biased if the ones agreeing on the guidelines knew that everyone could access them for free?

If the standards were free more people could peer-review them and/or blog about potential misfits. Therefore, the question arises: Are these standards so controversial that one would like to deter the greater public from knowing what there is inside and prevent widespread public discourse?

Anyway, in my opinion standards should be free. This point has been brought forward by others too. Reasons brought forward by some individuals of why ISO standards should be free are:

  1. National legislations sometimes incorporate or link ISO standards and thus free access would lead to greater legal certainty (read here).
  2. ISO standards are developed by volunteers and thus there are no significant costs for ISO in producing them (read post 1 or post 2).
  3. Fees may reduce the impact of the standards (read here).




The Right to Remember: On the WP29’s Opinion concerning the Right to Be Forgotten Ruling & the Balancing of the Freedom of Expression

10 Dec, 2014   | by:

Two weeks ago the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) issued Guidelines on the Implementation of Google Spain judgment.

Let’s have a look at how often the WP29 elaborates on the delicate balance between oblivion, erasure or forgetting and the individuals’ right to freedom of expression. More…

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The server’s security certificate is not valid – Continue anyway?!

14 Nov, 2014   | by:


Everyone is familiar with this scenario: you want to browse onto a particular website but instead a message pops up warning you that the security certificate of the site is no longer valid. What do you do now? Continue?

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Things that caught our eye

Floodwatch – Reverse Engineering Advertising Algorithms?

10 Oct, 2014   | by:

Criticism towards the online ad industry is abound. The lack of transparency in online tracking and targeted advertising is in fact a good reason for concern. Currently it seems that all the power of gathering personal data is in the hands of companies, which are only interested in leading us to click on more “consumption banners”.

Why not change the status quo by understanding how the ad industry works? Floodwatch just caught my eye today. As a Chrome extension it offers:

“tools to help you understand both the volume and the types of ads you’re being served during the course of normal browsing, with the goal of increasing awareness of how advertisers track your browsing behavior, build their version of your online identity, and target their ads to you as an individual.”

Floodwatch’s ultimate aim is to provide users with information about targeted ads to fight back against the tracking and targeting practices of the ad industry.

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Putting Oblivion, Erasure and Forgetting into Context

8 Oct, 2014   | by:

Damian George and I recently published an article on the right to be forgotten respectively the right of oblivion and erasure in the Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Law (JIPITEC). In this publication we discuss different cases handled by French, German and Italian courts and attempt to understand how the different legal backgrounds have led to a diverse implementation of the European data protection principles into national legislation.

We draw different insights from our comparative case law analysis and would like to share some of them here. More…

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