This event took place at the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies on Monday, 5 February 2018.

05 Feb 2018, 17:30 to 05 Feb 2018, 19:30
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

Speaker: Damian Clifford, KU Leuven Centre for IT and IP Law

Panel Discussants:

Dr Edina Harbinja, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Hertfordshire.

Hamed Haddadi, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor),  Deputy Director of Research in the Dyson School of Design Engineering, and an Academic Fellow of the Data Science Institute in the Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London.

Chair: Dr Nora Ni Loideain, Director and Lecturer in Law, Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies


Emotions play a key role in decision making. Technological advancements are now rendering emotions detectable in real-time. Building on the granular insights provided by big data, such technological developments allow commercial entities to move beyond the targeting of behaviour in advertisements to the personalisation of services, interfaces and the other consumer-facing interactions, based on personal preferences, biases and emotion insights gleaned from the tracking of online activity and profiling and the emergence of ‘emphathic media’.

Although emotion measurement is far from a new phenomenon, technological developments are increasing the capacity to monetise emotions. From the analysis of inter alia facial expressions, voice/sound patterns, to text and data mining, and the use of smart devices to detect emotions, such techniques are becoming mainstream.

Despite the fact there are many applications of such technologies which appear morally above reproach (i.e. at least in terms of their goals (e.g. healthcare or road safety) as opposed to the risks associated with their implementation, deployment and their potential effects), their use for advertising and marketing purposes raises clear concerns in terms of the rationality-based paradigm inherent to citizen-consumer protections and thus the autonomous decision-making capacity of individuals.

In this ILPC seminar, Visiting Scholar Damian Clifford will examine the emergence of such technologies in an online context vis-à-vis their use for commercial advertising and marketing purposes (construed broadly) and the challenges they present for EU data protection and consumer protection law. The analysis will rely on a descriptive and evaluative analysis of the relevant frameworks and aims to provide normative insights into the potential legal challenges presented by emotion commercialisation online.

Discussant:  Dr Edina Harbinja is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Hertfordshire. Her principal areas of research and teaching are related to the legal issues surrounding the Internet and emerging technologies. In her research, Edina explores the application of property, contract law, intellectual property and privacy online. Edina is a pioneer and a recognised expert in post-mortem privacy, i.e. privacy of the deceased individuals. Her research has a policy and multidisciplinary focus and aims to explore different options of regulation of online behaviours and phenomena. She has been a visiting scholar and invited speaker to universities and conferences in the USA, Latin America and Europe, and has undertaken consultancy for the Fundamental Rights Agency. Her research has been cited by legislators, courts and policymakers in the US and Europe as well. Find her on Twitter at @EdinaRl.

Hamed Haddadi is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) and the Deputy Director of Research in the Dyson School of Design Engineering, and an Academic Fellow of the Data Science Institute, at the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London.  He is interested in User-Centered Systems, IoT, Applied Machine Learning, and Data Security & Privacy. He enjoys designing and building systems that enable better use of our digital footprint, while respecting users’ privacy. He is also broadly interested in sensing applications and Human-Data Interaction.

A wine reception will follow this seminar.

This event is FREE but advanced booking is required.