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The Challenges of Ambient Law and Legal Protection in the Profiling Era

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Ambient Intelligence is a vision of a future in which autonomic smart environments take an unprecedented number of decisions both for the private and the public good. It involves a shift to automated pattern recognition, a new paradigm in the construction of knowledge. This will fundamentally affect our lives, increasing specific types of errors, loss of autonomy and privacy, unfair discrimination and stigmatisation, and an absence of due process. Current law's articulation in the technology of the printed script is inadequate in the face of the new type of knowledge generation. A possible solution is to articulate legal protections within the socio-technical infrastructure. In particular, both privacy-enhancing and transparency-enhancing technologies must be developed that embed legal rules in ambient technologies themselves. This vision of ‘Ambient Law’ requires a novel approach to law making which addresses the challenges of technology, legitimacy, and political-legal theory. Only a constructive and collaborative effort to migrate law from books to other technologies can ensure that Ambient Law becomes reality, safeguarding the fundamental values underlying privacy, identity, and democracy in tomorrow's ambient intelligent world.
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Keywords: Ambient Law; due process; identity; non-discrimination; privacy; profiling; transparency

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Vrije Universiteit Brussel 2: Tilburg University, the Netherlands

Publication date: 2010-05-01

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