Research Handbook in Data Science and Law
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Research Handbook in Data Science and Law

Edited by Vanessa Mak, Eric Tjong Tjin Tai and Anna Berlee

The use of data in society has seen an exponential growth in recent years. Data science, the field of research concerned with understanding and analyzing data, aims to find ways to operationalize data so that it can be beneficially used in society, for example in health applications, urban governance or smart household devices. The legal questions that accompany the rise of new, data-driven technologies however are underexplored. This book is the first volume that seeks to map the legal implications of the emergence of data science. It discusses the possibilities and limitations imposed by the current legal framework, considers whether regulation is needed to respond to problems raised by data science, and which ethical problems occur in relation to the use of data. It also considers the emergence of Data Science and Law as a new legal discipline.
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Chapter 6: Pledge and attachment of digital data under Belgian law

Koen Swinnen

Abstract

This chapter delves into the issue of the legal qualification of data within property law, which gives rise to a remarkable paradox. On the one hand, it is a fact that a rapidly growing number of companies have discovered the (potential) economic value of data and have come to consider, use and treat them as regular business assets. As a result, data are gathered, processed, analyzed and also ‘sold’ on a large scale and on a daily basis. On the other hand, the author shows that – taking the example of Belgian law – that property law denies the very existence of data files. They are not susceptible to a right of pledge or attachment. The chapter looks at the indirect way in which it is possible to pledge and attach data files by way of the data carrier, the sui generis database right, and also discusses alternatives. Moreover, the chapter also looks at whether pledging of and foreclosure on data files can be considered a justified processing of personal data in light of the GDPR.

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