Legal Issues of Data in the Information Society

Graduate School: Legal and Economic Sciences

PhD programme: European and International Legal Sciences

Application Deadline: 16 April 2018

Start Date: 1st October 2018

Duration: 36 months


In a society where information technology and telecommunications are increasingly spreading and evolving in their degree of sophistication, data have become a strategic resource for social and economic development and a key asset for promoting cultural richness. In this regard, not only does free availability of information allow new forms of labour organization and production, but it is also related to an efficient and transparent functioning of democratic institutions. Information has become itself a product of human activity, to such an extent that nowadays the processing and the transmission of data represent one of the main driving forces of the economy (concurring to the building of a so-called “data economy”).

In this highly global and international phenomenon, the legal treatment of data has acquired a paramount importance and needs to be thoroughly analysed, not only at a national level, but also in a European, international and comparative perspective. Because of its pervasive character, the phenomenon raises complex legal issues – exponentially amplified in the case of so-called “Big Data” – that concern almost all areas of legal experience (e.g. constitutional law, civil law, commercial, industrial and antitrust law, criminal law, labour law, financial services law, administrative law, tax law, international and EU law, without neglecting the historical dimension of this development).

As is well known, the protection of privacy and personal data is the perspective from which the topic has traditionally been dealt with over the last few decades, in both national and international contexts. Beyond this traditional approach, the challenge is to create a legislative framework that not only guarantees the protection of privacy but also allows a free, secure and effective circulation of data, especially when it comes to non-personal data.

In light of this broad thematic background, and taking into account that those mentioned above are only examples of the several approaches under which these issues can be analysed, the applications will have to identify specific and innovative research issues based on the most relevant national, European and/or international legal sources regarding the legal treatment of data. The proposed research questions shall be investigated starting from the perspective of one or more legal fields among those included in the PhD programme. Where feasible and appropriate, an integrated and interdisciplinary approach, as well as a strong focus on the international and/or comparative dimension of the investigation will be encouraged. Moreover, the research project will have to show relevant potential applications with social, economic and/or cultural outcomes.


INFO For further information about the research topics, please, contact Prof. Maria Caterina Baruffi ( and Prof. Matteo Ortino (

FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES (like application procedure, eligibility criteria, documents to be prepared), please email