45 Mar 2021

Researching Discrimination in E-Commerce and Online Advertising (webinar)

Are the existing rules of consumer protection and non-discrimination law fit for dealing with the potential harm created by the increasing use of targeted advertising and personalization in ecommerce? Can technology assist consumer authorities to detect targeting and personalization practices that infringe existing rules, and/or assist policy makers in the field of consumer law to amend consumer protection and non-discrimination to this new reality? These questions will addressed during this two day seminar. The first day experienced scholars will give their view on these questions. The second day, a group of younger researchers, winners of an abstract competition, will present their research and share their ideas. 




The increasing use of big data and algorithms allows for an increasingly precise targeting of specific consumer groups with specific types of advertising and prices and an increasing personalization of commercial messages. Receiving advertisements aligned to their personal interests may be perceived as useful by consumers, but it also raises issues of privacy, and it may even lead to the creation of unfair distinctions between consumers and even to illegal discrimination. When the selection of the categories of users is not the result of explicit choices made by the advertiser, but of the functioning of an algorithm, it is not always clear which criterion determines who receives which type of advertising.

The focus of the discussions will be on the EU, but US and Chinese examples will also facilitate trans-continental comparisons and highlight the regional similarities and differences in the challenges of and approaches for tackling discrimination problems.

Programme on Thursday 4 March

13.15 Registration
13.30 Opening and Welcome by Dr. Caroline Cauffman (Maastricht University) and Pedro V. Hernández Serrano (Maastricht University)
13.40 Panel 1 - chair: Caroline Cauffman
Protected grounds and the system of non-discrimination law in the context of algorithmic decision-making and artificial intelligence by Prof. Dr. Janneke Gerards (Utrecht University) and by Prof. Dr. Frederik Borgesius (Radboud University Nijmegen)
14.00 Discussion
14.15 Personalised Advertising and the UCPD by Prof. Dr. Hans Micklitz (University of Helsinki)
14.35 Discrimination in the Platform Economy by Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Hakstian (Salem State University)
14.55 Discussion
15.15 Break
15.30 Panel 2 - chair: Pedro V. Hernández Serrano
Auditing the Amazon Buy Box by Prof. Dr. Christo Wilson (Northeastern University)
15.50 Discussion
16.00 Algorithmic Affirmative Action by Prof. Dr. Philipp Hacker (European University Viadrina)
16.20 Safeguarding online political advertising by Prof. Dr. Oana Goga (French National Centre for Scientific Research)
16.40 Discussion
17.00 Closing Remarks 


Programme on Friday 5 March

13.00 Registration
13.20 Opening and welcome by Dr. Caroline Cauffman (Maastricht University) and by Pedro V. Hernández Serrano (Maastricht University)
13.30 Panel 1 - chair: Catalina Goanta
How should competition law response to AI-enabled price discrimination? by Li Qian (Maastricht University)
13.45 Why the right to know also the impersonal price exists and empowers consumers by Dr. Fabrizio Esposito (NOVA University Lisbon)
14.00 Discussion
14.30 Abusive language on social media data: through the legal looking glass by Andreea Grigoriu (Maastricht University) and by Thales Costa Bertaglia (Maastricht University)
14.45 Identifying Bias Indicators in the recruitment process using Natural Language Processing (NLP) by Richard Frissen (Maastricht University) and by Dr. Rohan Nanda (Maastricht University)
15.00 Discussion
15.30 Break
15.45 Panel 2 - chair: Caroline Cauffman
Fostering consumer protection in the granular market: the role of consent and misrepresentation rules in regulating personalized practices by Dr. Antonio Davola (LUISS Guido Carli University & University Amsterdam)
16.00 Using special categories of data to prevent discrimination by artificial intelligence: does the GDPR need a new exception? by Prof. Dr. Frederik Borgesius (Radboud University Nijmegen) and by Marvin van Bekkum (Radboud University Nijmegen)
16.15 Gender Bias in Online Behavioural Advertising by Jingxi Liu (Queen Mary University of London)
16.30 Discussion
17.15 Closing remarks