The growing relevance of public sector information and the risks of differential access regimes and information monopolies

The growing datafication of society involves all public and private sectors as decisions are increasingly data-driven. In the public sector, this is manifested in the growing technification of the administration, while in the private sector companies that can make the best of the cognitive value of data are being more competitive. In this context, re-use of public sector information plays a fundamental role. The recent Directive 2019/1024/EU has positively extended the scope of re-use, while however leaving to Member State the definition of the access regimes. This means that each Member State remains free to open its data or not. The paper therefore analyzes the risks that may result from differential regimes and information monopolies held by public bodies, and therefore which legal remedies and technologies ‒ such as blockchain ‒ can overcome such risks.

Reinforcing trust in public decision-making: Information Communication Technologies as tools for openness and participation?

Trust in public decision-making processes has become a growing concern for public institutions, which are making efforts in order to ensure openness, transparency and broader participation. In face of the crisis affecting traditional legitimizing mechanisms (as representation), ICT solutions are seen as important tools to strengthen trust and legitimization, being able to bring citizens closer to public action and also to channel dissent into participatory and open administrative proceedings. Innovative tools and technologies (e.g. AI and blockchain), while enhancing administrative action, pose however new risks and challenges that must be addressed by public law. ICT must be implemented in accordance with the principles of good administration (transparency and participation first of all), so as to combine the technological evolution of the public function with a renewed confidence in its ability to meet the needs of citizens.

Emerging Distrust in Data-driven Health Research: Which EU Tools of Dissent?

According to the EU Commission’s Ethics Guidelines on Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, equality in the data-driven environment goes well beyond non-discrimination objectives and requires that “the system’s operations” do not “generate unfairly biased outputs”, this implying particular attention towards “vulnerable persons and groups”. Moving from this notion of equality, this contribution explores the emerging (in)equality pitfalls of the data-driven health research landscape, and the European Union institutions’ stances towards these. The occurrence of new biases affecting health research and the emergence of new stigmatization patterns, suggests the need of an adequate regulatory governance of the currently developing datafied health research environment. The suitability of the current EU framework regarding health research, given by the complex interaction between GDPR, CTR and MDR is questioned. Emerging policy developments and persisting gaps are assessed.

Transformations of the administrative decision and its judicial control in human rights violation

Judicial review of administrative decisions is a fundamental part of any legal system based on the rule of law. Only the existence of proper judicial review of administrative decisions can ensure that citizens can have sufficient confidence that the decisions adopted by public officials are lawful and legitimate. When it comes to discretionary decisions, however, judicial review may intersect with the merit of the decision and how it is adopted. An important side-effect of judicial review is in fact that it can affect how discretionary powers are exercised, as it is the case with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Through its case law, the IACHR has influenced discretionary powers of public authorities, for instance, changing its organization or exercising powers in a specific way. The paper aims to analyze this kind of adjudication that suggests an interesting transformation in judicial review of public administration when there is a human rights violation.

Blockchain-based platforms as new alternative fora. What’s the role for the rule of law?

Distributed Ledger Technologies and blockchain are putting at stake the role of State. Namely, sovereignty of States in certain fields is challenged by the increasingly widespread use of crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies. This is particularly true if we focus on the so-called new “fora” flourished out of blockchain, i.e. platforms developed on blockchain to provide users with a dispute resolution mechanism working both on oracle based procedures and arbitral procedures. One might wonder whether and how such blockchain-based procedures mirror a distrust and dissent towards the State and the public institutions. In the light of these premises, this contribution aims to show that these new technologies are not laying in a vacuum; on the contrary, they are linked to traditional national legal systems. The question is how to connect the two worlds: the old traditional one, and the new one, which is bringing a paradigm shift to the way we might think, pay, trade, connect with each other.