Artificial intelligence and sensitive inferences: New challenges for data protection laws

Date & time
1–2pm Wednesday 10 March 2021

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law, Building 7, Room 7.4.1., 6 Fellows Road, Acton, ACT 2601

Dr Damian Clifford
ANU Law Marketing
ANU College of Law Research Seminar

Part of the ANU College of Law Research Seminar Series 2021 series

Artificial Intelligence and Sensitive Inferences: New Challenges for Data Protection Laws

Data protection laws are under strain to respond to the continuing advances in information and communications technologies, including now AI technologies. How strictly they regulate the handling of personal information and its effects for human identity varies between jurisdictions, despite efforts to achieve international harmonisation. One such area of disparity between existing data protection laws is on the question of whether some types of data, designated ‘sensitive’, or ‘special’, should be subject to stricter legal or practical protection. In this article, we consider the basis on which some categories of data are accorded enhanced protection as sensitive (or special) in modern data protection regimes, and why the categories themselves may vary between jurisdictions. The blurring of the boundaries between ‘ordinary’ personal data and these sensitive categories through the potential to draw inferences from intensive data processing facilitated by developments in artificial intelligence (and more specifically machine learning), raises important new questions for policymakers.

This seminar will be based on a forthcoming co-authored book chapter with Prof Megan Richardson and A/Prof Normann Witzleb available at SSRN.

Note: This is an in-person event only.


  • Dr Damian Clifford »

    Dr Damian Clifford is a senior lecturer at the Australian National University, College of Law and an associate researcher at Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (University of London). His research focuses predominantly on data protection, privacy and the regulation of technology.

    He has also previously been a visiting lecturer at the Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London (2018-2019), a sessional lecturer and honorary fellow at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne and a sessional lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology.

    Damian completed his PhD at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP) where he was a FWO Aspirant Fellow funded by Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen (FWO) from October 2015 to October 2019. Prior to his FWO fellowship, Damian worked on European Commission funded (FP7 and Horizon 2020) projects in the fields of inter alia Critical Infrastructure Protection, Public Sector Information re-use and Cloud Computing at CiTiP. During this period he split his time between institutions by also working for the University of Antwerp.

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