Tilburg University invites applications for a Ph.D. Researcher in Data Protection and Cybersecurity Law for the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society, the Netherlands – Mar 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD Position
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: , ,
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: ASAP
Contract Period: 16 Months
Salary: 2,443 EURO/Month

Tilburg Law School

Tilburg University, the Netherlands


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Qualification Details

Tilburg University believes that academic excellence is achieved through the combination of outstanding research and education, in which social impact is made by sharing knowledge. In doing so, we recognize that excellence is not only achieved through individual performance, but mostly through team effort in which each team member acts as a leader connecting people.

Applicants must:

  •     Have a Bachelor’s degree in Law.
  •     Have completed a Master’s degree in Law with a curriculum that includes privacy, data protection, and/or cybersecurity.
  •     Have an interdisciplinary mindset and a strong interest in doing research.
  •     Be able to formulate views, ideas and concepts based upon complex information.
  •     Have good planning, management, and organization skills.
  •    Be able to undertake certain administrative duties autonomously. Be proactive and accountable, able to manage varied commitments simultaneously.
  •     Have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  •    Have perfect command of English. Knowledge of Dutch is an asset, but not required.
  •    Demonstrate scientific integrity.
  •     Contribute to an open and diversified culture of excellence.

Post-graduate research experience or work experience in the area of privacy, data protection, and/or cybersecurity in either the public or private sector is appreciated.

The successful candidate is expected to manage some of TILT’s INTERSECT administrative tasks, join and present at project meetings, and may be asked to perform other duties occasionally which are not included above, but which will be consistent with the PhD topic and position, such as supervising LLM students or helping with the organisations of seminars and events.Tilburg University believes that academic excellence is achieved through the combination of outstanding research and education in which social impact is made by sharing knowledge. In doing so, we recognize that excellence is not only achieved through individual performance but mostly through team effort in which each team member acts as a leader, connecting people.

Responsibilities/Job Description

TILT is looking for a PhD researcher in data protection and cybersecurity for the project INTERSECT – An Internet of Secure Things (http://intersct.nl). The candidate will be working on the Governance & Privacy perspective of the project, which, amongst other things, aims at investigating the relationship between privacy and data protection, on the one hand, and security, on the other hand.

INTERSECT holds that when building security-by-design, security-by-default, robustness, and resilience into IoT devices themselves is not possible, we must also have legal, regulatory, and governance capabilities to address or prevent potential threats. The first line of inquiry of the project thus relates about how personal data protection law and neighbouring legislation (e.g. GDPR, NIS Directive, ePrivacy Directive, the proposed ePrivacy Regulation, the AI Act Proposal) can be used to engender privacy and security in the IoT space, when security cannot be designed into IoT devices from the outset. Yet, while the axiom according to which ‘there is no privacy without security’ still holds true, rethinking modern security practices for the IoT age can possibly lead to trade-offs between security, on the one hand, and the rights to privacy and personal data protection, on the other hand. The use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) more generally for security purposes is not devoid of potential threats to individuals’ privacy and data protection. Hence, this project’s second line of inquiry investigates whether and how privacy and (IoT) security can clash.

The aim of this project is thus to analyse the privacy and data protection implications of autonomous vulnerability and exploitation detection and management in the IoT environment, with a particular reference to the methods and approach developed by the INTERSECT consortium. The project will identify the applicable norms and principles, delineate their scope, and formulate recommendations for the pursuit of an optimal trade-off between IoT security and personal data protection.

The successful candidate will:

  • Actively contribute to the INTERSECT research project.
  • Independently pursue path-breaking research leading to an excellent PhD dissertation.
  • Collaboratively pursue interdisciplinary research in collaboration with the project partners.
  • Participate in the Tilburg Graduate Law School courses and activities.
  • Be an active member of the department by participating in and organizing events and activities, presenting and discussing research output within the department, and representing the department outside Tilburg University.
  • Supervise students in writing their Master thesis in Law & Technology and reading and grading Master theses on a variety of topics.

How to Apply?

Application Method: Online Application
Ref. No.: 19463

Application Procedure

Please apply for this position online before the 15th of March 2022. Address your letter of interest to prof. dr. Eleni Kosta and add a resume, your grade list, a recent example of your written work (e.g. master thesis), and a minimum of two references (including an email address).

First selection interviews take place in March. Second rounds, if necessary, will be scheduled approximately 1 or 2 weeks later. Ideally, the preferred candidate would be able to start in May and is expected to eventually settle in the Netherlands.

The selection committee consists of:

  1.     Chair: prof. dr. E. (Eleni) Kosta (Full Professor)
  2.     Dr. R. (Ronald) Leenes (Full Professor)
  3.     Dr. L. (Lorenzo) Dalla Corte (Assistant Professor)

About the Department

Department of Law, Technology and Society (TILT)

The Department of Law, Technology and Society (TILT) is the home of teaching and research on the effects of socio-technical change on the regulation and management of economic activities in an age where information technology is a major driver of innovation. TILT is one of the leading research groups in Europe at the intersection of law, technology and society. It is based on a multidisciplinary study of socio-technical change, aimed at understanding the interaction between technology and social and normative practices, in order to clarify how to address the regulatory challenges of socio-technical change.

An Internet of Secure Things – INTERSECT

The Internet-of-Things (IoT), which seamlessly connects the digital and the physical world, is turning out to be one of the weakest spots in the global digital infrastructure. Billions of physical devices with computing and networking capabilities both exacerbate the privacy and security risks of ‘traditional’ IT settings, and create an entirely new threat surface. A pervasive cyber-physical system of systems, entwined with a myriad of IoT devices, will oversee our lives and economy, while at the same time, from a privacy and security perspective, being completely unmanageable at scale.

The amount, heterogeneity, and varying longevity of IoT devices challenges conventional information, application, and network security practices. It constitutes a serious threat to our ability to safeguard individuals’ security and safety, on the one hand, and their privacy and data protection rights, on the other hand. IoT devices are different from traditional computing infrastructure in that they are oftentimes dispersed across large geographical areas, even when operated by the same entity, which renders updating and fixing them oftentimes complicated and costly. Their product support lifespan is frequently shorter than the period during which they are used or installed, which results in a plethora of old devices riddled with vulnerabilities and ripe for exploitation deployed in the wild. The IoT category is also extremely heterogeneous and diverse when compared to ‘traditional’ computing infrastructures: the intermixture of millions of disparate IoT devices and applications, manufactured and managed in countries all over the globe, compounds the challenges of supervising, handling, and controlling the cyber-physical domain.

The INTERSECT project thus holds that traditional security paradigms, based on targeted solutions developed and deployed specifically for each system, are doomed to eventually fail. Such assessment is compounded by the fact that such a heterogeneous, complex, and globe-spanning environment is easily mismanaged by its human component. The INTERSECT project maintains that, from a technological perspective, there is the need to re-think the security paradigm, delegating part of the security management to the system that needs to autonomously adapt to the changing environment, while remaining under our supervision. When designing or engineering these properties into the devices themselves is not possible, we must be able to resort to other kinds of capabilities, such as the ones deriving from legislation, or from other regulatory and governance instruments.

About the Employer:

Note or Other details


Tilburg University offers excellent terms of employment. We believe flexibility, development, and good employee benefits are very important. We make clear agreements on career paths and offer several facilities and schemes to maintain an optimum balance between work and private life. Tilburg University fosters diversity and inclusion; that is why we pursue an active policy for inclusive teams where diverse talents can flourish.

The starting gross salary varies between € 2,443 and € 3,122 per month (full time) based on scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Universities (vsnu.nl). Tilburg University actively promotes equal and transparent salary between men and women by strictly applying predetermined parameters based on the candidate’s experience. Employees recruited from abroad may be eligible for the 30% tax facility—this means that 30% of your salary will be paid as a tax-free reimbursement.

Tilburg University offers you an employment agreement which will initially be for a fixed period of 16 months with a statutory probationary period of two months. After 12 months, an evaluation will take place. If the performance evaluation is positive, your employment agreement will be extended for the remaining period of 32 months.

You are entitled to a holiday allowance amounting to 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% of your gross yearly income. If you work 40 hours per week, you receive 41 days of paid recreational leave per year.

Please visit Working at Tilburg University for more information on our employment conditions.

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Contact details

More information about the vacancy can be obtained from dr. Lorenzo Dalla Corte ([email protected]).

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