Who is Rossana Ducato?

  • Postdoctoral researcher at UCLouvain and Université Saint-Louis-Bruxelles, specialising in IT law.
  • Italian, lives in Brussels, 33 years old.
  • Passionate about research, legal design, windsurf and sci-fi.

Keyword

Curiositas is a Latin term that translates to ‘the thirst for knowledge’, inspiring people to learn and discover the unknown. It’s that thirst that drives Rosanna every day and pushes her to give it her all in her job, day after day.

A job at the heart of innovation

A researcher’s job is all about innovation, and the same goes for researchers in law. How can we improve our legal system and tailor it to the needs of our society? How can we solve the challenges that arise from new technologies? Those are the questions I try to answer.

Rossana is currently working on a Legal Design project on The Internet of Platforms (IoP) and consumer protection. Her research aims to improve the transparency of transactions and the information that consumers receive on online platforms. The goal is to provide responses to protect and empower consumers in our new sharing economy. Legal Design aims to translate legal texts to images, thus creating simplified, visual documents that everyone can understand. It is an interdisciplinary approach at the crossroads of law, design, computer science, IT and behavioural sciences.

Rossana also helms the academic module European IT Law by Design, an innovative course which introduces Legal Design into law and technology courses.

A project in the spotlight

One of the practical outcomes of my research is the development of an app that helps consumers understand the terms and conditions of online platforms.

Online, all of us are confronted with the ‘wall of text’ containing all the terms and conditions of a website or platform. More often than not, we just confirm that we have read everything and click agree without actually reading anything. The Be.aware app is bit like a Rosetta stone in that it allows consumers to decipher the terms and conditions and the privacy policies of the services offered. It summarises them and translates them into a more comprehensible language. A warning icon is added and a rating system scores the analysed texts for quality and fairness. The idea is to provide consumers with information that helps them to make an informed decision.

Be.aware is currently being tested by real users in the Brussels-Capital Region, so a fully automated 2.0 version can be developed.

Bruxelles, City of Innovators

Rossana feels that Brussels has really created an environment that fosters innovation:

There is a political culture that really recognises the value of research for society, with several initiatives and a network that offers support to universities and PMEs, at different stages of the development process, as part of a long-term vision.

Her career

Rossana has a PhD in European and comparative law (University of Trento, Italy). She has been a visiting scholar in various prestigious international research centres and universities, in Europe, Asia and the United States. She has worked on international projects involving computer scientists, engineers, medical professionals, scientists, lawyers …

Those experiences have allowed me to develop an interdisciplinary approach and have improved my capacity to interact with experts with different backgrounds.

3 tips for Brussels innovators

1)  Be an interdisciplinary thinker!
2)  Establish a dialogue between the business community and academia, so they can learn from each other and push innovation forward.
3)  Innovate responsibly, keeping in mind the consequences for society and the environment.

Figures

1)  Europe has 651 online collaboration platforms in various consumer industries.
2)  In Europe, the transactions and revenue of online platforms amounted to €26.5 billion in 2016.
3)  According to the Special Eurobarometer 447/2016, 50% of Belgians hardly ever read the terms and conditions of online platforms.

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