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26.10.2017: FinTech and Data Ownership: Legal Issues of Digital Business Models

Zurich, 26 October 2017, 3:30 - 5.00 pm

Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower

Faculty of Law, the University of Hong Kong

The Workshop will explore FinTech from both the Asian and European perspectives, as well as  the role that the ownership of data could play in the FinTech environment and in many other sectors of the digital economy.

Flyer (PDF, 263 KB)


26.10.2017: The Future of Privacy

Zurich, 26 October 2017, 6:00 - 7.30 pm

Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower

Faculty of Law, the University of Hong Kong

Rapid advances in information and communication technology have made information more accessible, bringing tremendous changes in people’s daily life. Nowadays, individual users can access easily information content, shop, book holidays, find directions, or track one's fitness simply by typing words or voicing questions. However, at the same time, how each person searches for and later uses the information can be tracked, collected and stored by third parties. Our digital footprints have raised important privacy concerns which are made even more critical in light of the seemingly ubiquitous internet, the increasing connection between things and people, and the ease with which personal data can be transferred across jurisdictions.

This public symposium is jointly organized by the Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) of the University of Zurich and the Law and Technology Centre of the University of Hong Kong. The symposium features presentations on privacy by four leading scholars/practitioners working on the topical issue of privacy and data protection in Switzerland and Hong Kong. This symposium aims to address different dimensions of privacy challenges in today’s environment and will conclude with a lively panel discussion on the future of privacy.

Flyer (PDF, 365 KB)

Past Events:

27.09.2017: ICT - Recht und Praxis

Flyer (PDF, 659 KB) (in German)

29.08.2017: Brown-Bag Lunch with Prof. Katsumi Tanaka

Zurich, 29 August 2017, 12:00 - 13:00 pm

University of Zurich
Raemistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich

Room KOL-N-1

On 29 August 2017, Prof. Katsumi Tanaka visits the ITSL. Prof. Tanaka is professor emeritus of the Kyoto University (Graduate School of Informatics, Division of Social Informatics). His research focuses on topics at the interface of law and computer science.
Prof. Tanaka talks about "Big Data and Legal Issues - Law and AI".

30.05.2017: Swiss Internet Governance Forum (Swiss IGF)

30. May 2017, all day

Welle 7 (Deck 3), Berne

The 2017 Swiss Internet Governance Forum will address key challenges of digitalisation in Switzerland. ITSL will participate at the Swiss IGF by hosting a workshop dedicated to the topic "Rethink Privacy!". Please find any further information in the attached preview.

Preview (PDF, 232 KB)

Swiss Internet Governance Forum

11.05.2017: Rethink Privacy!

Zurich, 11 May 2017, 6:15-7:45 pm

University of Zurich
Raemistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich
Room KOL-E-18

Today’s privacy concepts are based on principles that were developed for the first all-encompassing data protection acts of the 1970’s. While these concepts still coin the current data protection laws in all of Europe, they seem outdated in the digital age and it is doubtful whether they are fit for the future. Nevertheless, all these principles have been cemented in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the time being on a European level. For lack of alternatives, Switzerland will also follow the same path when revising its Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP).

It is against this background that a fundamental analysis of the subject privacy in an information society is needed and new concepts have to be developed. Sustainable new concepts would have to embrace the opportunities of digitalization while at the same time providing the data subjects with adequate protection.

The Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) at the University of Zurich addresses these questions. We start by analysing the current state of law. Stakeholders from science, business, public administration and the civil society point out whether the current concepts satisfy the existing privacy needs and whether today’s concepts are fit for the future. Following the keynotes, there will be a public discussion.

Admission is free. No registration is necessary. The event will be held in German only.

Flyer (PDF, 289 KB)

29.03.2017: Data Ownership

Zurich, 29 March 2017, 6:15-7:45 pm

University of Zurich
Raemistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich
Room KOL-E-18

Recently, companies applying data-driven business models have argued that data, their most important asset, needs to be protected by some sort of ownership right. At the same time, individuals look for means to regain sovereignty over their personal data. Consequently, data ownership has become a hot topic. While the debate has already reached the political sphere, its scientific discussion in Switzerland – like in other European jurisdictions – has only just begun. The fundamental questions to be answered are the following: Why is there a need for data ownership? How could it be justified? What would be its scope? And how could it be implemented?

The Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) at University of Zurich addresses these questions at a public event.

After keynotes by Prof. Dr. Herbert Zech (University of Basel) and Prof. Dr. Florent Thouvenin (University of Zurich, ITSL), regarding non-personal and personal data respectively, Prof. Dr. Rolf H. Weber (University of Zurich, ITSL) will lead a panel discussion in which the keynote speakers will be joined by experts from the economy, and the legal practice, namely Daniel Schönberger (Google Switzerland and Austria), Thomas Pletscher (economiesuisse), and Dr. Martin Eckert (Attorney at law).

Admission is free and no registration is necessary. This event will be held in German.

Reporting by UZH News

Flyer (PDF, 132 KB)

22.11.2016: The Power of Algorithms - Tools or Actors?

Zurich, 22 November 2016, 6.15-7.45pm

University of Zurich, RAI
Raemistrasse 74, 8001 Zurich
Floor H, Room RAI H-041

Algorithmic selection and decision making processes shape our everyday life, our perception of the world around us and our day-to-day actions. In a digital society characterized by automation and big data, algorithms quickly gain importance in all aspects of life.

This leads to issues of algorithms as a tool to wield power and algorithms as independent actors. To what extent do algorithms act autonomously and intentionally? Can they be controlled and are their results predictable? Can algorithms act morally right? What social challenges result from an ethical perspective and how can they be overcome?

The event will begin with an introductory presentation by Prof. Dr. Michael Latzer (IPMZ – Media Change & Innovation Division, UZH), followed by an  assessment of the power of algorithms from a technical and ethical perspective by Prof. Dr. Thomas Hofmann (Data Analytics Lab, Department of Computer Science, ETH Zurich) and Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel (Institute for Information Systems, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, FHNW).

The issues will then be discussed by the speakers and the audience.

Free admission. No registration is required.

Organization and moderation:
Prof. Dr. Michael Latzer (UZH)
Prof. Dr. Friedemann Mattern (ETH Zurich)

Flyer (PDF, 213 KB)

Slides Prof. Dr. Michael Latzer (PDF, 4513 KB)

Slides Prof. Dr. Thomas Hofmann (PDF, 16553 KB)

Slides Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel (PDF, 1693 KB)

26.10.2016: Online Advertising

Online advertising presents opportunities and risks for both advertisers and consumers and raises a number of legal questions. The Swiss Forum for Communications Law (SF-FS) and the Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) at University of Zurich put these questions into a broader context, analyze them in detail and put them up for a panel and plenary discussion.

The event will be held in German.

Flyer (in German) (PDF, 237 KB)

Registration (Website SF-FS)

19.10.2016: Internet Blocking

Governments can restrict access to certain information by means of internet blocking. In Switzerland, the use of such measures is currently discussed in the context of several ongoing revision projects of federal laws, namely in the copyright act, the telecommunications act, and the proposed federal act on gambling. This raises the question whether such access restrictions are permissible and how they can be justified.

The Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) at University of Zurich analyses internet blocking from a technical and legal perspective: First, Prof. Dr. Burkhard Stiller (Department of Informatics, UZH) illustrates the technological possibilities and assesses the effectiveness of such measures. On this basis, Prof. Dr. Florent Thouvenin (Institute of Law, UZH) examines if and under which circumstances such measures seem permissible from a legal perspective.

Against this backdrop, the speakers and the audience will discuss the relevant questions with both a proponent and an opponent of internet blocking.

Free admission. No registration is required.

07.06.2016: Dynamic Pricing

E-commerce enterprises have more and more technical means to adjust their offers to the individual customer's needs. These possibilities range from personalized advertising to individualized and dynamic pricing.

Among other things, suppliers may adjust their prices to the individual customer's willingness to pay. Such dynamic pricing may make sense from an economic perspective. However, it also raises numerous legal questions, namely with regard to data protection law, provisions of the Price Indication Ordinance, contract law, and antitrust law.

The Swiss Forum for Communications Law (SF-FS) and the ITSL at University of Zurich will analyse the phenomenon of dynamic pricing from an economic and legal perspective, examine the relevant questions and discuss them in an open panel discussion.

Dynamic Pricing Flyer (only in German) (PDF, 1593 KB)

Registration (Website SF-FS, only in German)

10.05.2016: Emerging Collisions between Internet Governance and International Trade Law

Internet Governance and international trade are not governed by the same institutions or rules, and have profoundly different regulatory histories, architectures and actors. With the increasing influence of the Internet on society and global trade, the issue of how and who should regulate trade over the Internet is emerging. Not entirely surprisingly, there have been overlaps between the two governance domains but these overlaps have so far been not explicitly addressed by policy-makers in a coordinated way.

The University of Zurich’s Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) will discuss and contextualize these overlaps and emerging collisions, as well as their implications for law and policy with a special lecture hosted by Prof Dr Rolf H. Weber (UZH). The lecture, which is jointly held by Dr John Selby (Visiting Professor of Macquarie University, Australia) and PD Dr Mira Burri (University of Lucerne), will be followed by a discussion.

Admission is free and no registration is required.

Internet Governance Flyer (PDF, 201 KB)

Presentation Slides (PDF, 615 KB)

12.04.2016: FinTech

On April 12, 2016, the ITSL is hosting a "FinTech Seminar", under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Müller and Dr. Michael Isler.

This half-day seminar will focus on digital technologies and their impact on the financial sector. Specifically, the seminar will provide an overview of the existing Swiss and EU regulatory framework and give essential legal insights into this sector through the perspective of FinTech companies on the basis of concrete business models. Additionally, it will tackle the issue of IP protection of financial innovations. The seminar will conclude with a panel discussion featuring leading players of the FinTech industry in Switzerland as well as bank and FINMA representatives.

Further information regarding the seminar can be found here:

FinTech Seminar Flyer (PDF, 1458 KB) (only in German)

09.03.2016: Open Geodata - Opportunities and Risks

The seminar included speeches by Gary Gale (CTO what3words, on open geodata in the UK and Daniel Kettiger (intellectual father of the law on geoinformation, on legal questions with regard to open geodata. The seminar has been led by Prof. Dr. Ross Purves, Professor for Geocomputation at the Institute for Geography at University of Zurich.

03.03.2016: Combination of Big Data and Small Data (Speech)

Speech by Prof. M. Martin and Prof. F. Thouvenin, held at the workshop "Big Data in the health care sector" of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences in Berne.

25.11.2015: Information and Power

On November 25, 2015, the ITSL hosted its kick-off lecture on the topic "Information and Power". The issues addressed included the power of internet platforms, digital gatekeeping and the influence of the internet on journalism.

The lecture was given by members of the ITSl, i.e. Prof. Dr. Florent Thouvenin (Institute of Law, UZH), Prof. Dr. Michael Latzer (Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research (IPMZ), UZH), Prof. Dr. Mike Martin (Gerontopsychology and Gerontology, Department of Psychology, UZH), Prof. Dr. Friedemann Mattern (Institute for Pervasive Computing, ETH), Prof. Dr. Sven Seuken (Department of Informatics, UZH), Prof. Dr. Gabriele Siegert (Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research (IPMZ), UZH), Prof. Dr. Effy Vayena (Institute for Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention, UZH) and Prof. Dr. Rolf H. Weber (Institute of Law, UZH).

The podcast of the kick-off lecture can be accessed here:


28.10.2015: Data Protection Management Systems

On October 28, 2015, the ITSL organized a conference on "The Emergence of Data-protection Management Systems – What Requirements under Data Protection Law?".

The conference was hosted by the ITSL in cooperation with ZIK and SF-FS. Further information regarding this conference can be found here:

Flyer (PDF, 198 KB) (only in German)