Data trusts workshop

Time: 10:00 - 17:00

Venue: Jesus College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB5 8BL

This workshop brings together experts in data science, public policy and property / Trust law to discuss the unique challenges inherent in designing bottom-up empowerment structures to complement existing, top-down data governance tools. While top down regulatory interventions are essential to curb the scope of contractual freedom when it comes to personal data, such interventions cannot, on their own, address the power imbalances between data subjects and data controllers. 

About the event

What are the best ways to create `bottom-up’ empowerment structures that acknowledge the fact that there are many different ways of balancing the risks and responsibilities that come with personal data, while also taking into account its being a source of significant vulnerability?

Legal Trusts differ from contractual (or corporate) structures in several key respects, chief amongst which are the fiduciary responsibilities of the data trustee, which entail an obligation of undivided loyalty towards the beneficiaries. The trustee's ‘office’ is overseen by a Court whose intervention powers are very different from those that apply in contractual or corporate scenarios. 

 Some have questioned whether data can indeed be held in a legal Trust: part of this workshop will be dedicated to a debate about the extent to which some kinds of data may be said to give rise to some property rights, and whether this property rights debate is at all relevant to the question of whether data can be the subject-matter of a Trust.

Another part of this workshop will consider the concrete implementation challenges underlying such bottom-up empowerment structures, including the extent to which data portability, access and erasure mechanisms may be automated.

This event will include an opening keynote from Sana Kharegani (Office for AI), a ’Trust Law 101’ talk from Professor Ben McFarlane (UCL) and several discussion panels with both academic and non-academic experts in data science, law and public policy.

To find out more, please click here.