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Welcome to the homepage of the "Private Law of Data" Project!

"Private Law of Data: Concepts, Practices, Principles & Politics" is a research project funded by Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021, project no. 2020/37/K/HS5/02769. The project is being realized at the Chair of Philosophy of Law and Legal Ethics, Faculty of Law and Administration, at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. The Project's team is led by dr. Przemysław Pałka. 

The goal of the project is to advance the scholarly understanding of how private law facilitates the emergence and the functioning of the data society, as well as to clarify the distinction between legal and political questions regarding its governance.

The project addresses the problem of how private law already facilitates and governs the data society. Instead of looking at the law as a reactive force that must respond to, and "keep up with", the exogenous technological changes, this project posits private law as one of the driving forces behind the rise of the data society, working together with economic incentives and technological capabilities of various actors. The overall hypothesis is that private law contributes to the functioning of the data society (for good and for bad) through its: (i) conceptual vagueness and austerity surrounding "data" about humans; (ii) institutions of contract and property enabling corporations to privately create norms allowing them to amass data about humans and use it to extract value from the marketplace; (iii) the implicit assumption that data collection is a good thing.

Project’s activities are divided into four work packages, organized around four specific research questions:

How is the concept of "data" used in legal and socio-political discourses concerning the digital economy; what are the different kinds of entities the term "data" refers to; and how to supplement the all-encompassing categories of "data" and "information" with classifications increasing the law’s explanatory power?

What are the contents of the privately made "data law", i.e., rules governing data collection, analysis, sharing and usage by private corporations, stipulated in terms of use and privacy policies of online services; what kinds of data-related activities do corporations engage in when dealing with consumers; and what is the place of these activities in the broader context of the digital economy?

What principles of private law and personal data protection law are in conflict; how does the assumption of perfect information in competitive market fare against the principles of data minimization and purpose limitation?

What are the political choices the society faces at the intersection of private law and personal data protection law; what equally legitimate goals and means are available to lawmakers; and how to equip private lawyers with analytical categories increasing their understanding, without predetermining their normative commitments.

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Results of the project will be presented primarily through academic articles and book chapters. In addition, they will be popularized through other venues, including this website.