Postdoctoral Researcher: Use of Bulk Data by Intelligence Services and Other State Bodies

Updated: 13 days ago
Deadline: 22 Jan 2023

0.8 - 1.0 FTE

Gross monthly salary
€ 2,960 - € 4,670

Required background

Organizational unit
Faculty of Science

Application deadline
22 January 2023

Apply now
The increased digitalisation and datafication of science and society raises urgent questions regarding safety and security. That is why critical thinkers that can answer these questions have a part to play. As a postdoctoral researcher, you will investigate the use of bulk data, from a legal or social perspective, by state bodies such as intelligence services and the police.

Many modern intelligence services use bulk data: large collections of data on millions of people, such as telecommunications metadata and passenger data in aviation. Most of those people are not and will never be targets of these services. The police increasingly use bulk data too, for instance data from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. As data storage is becoming increasingly cheap, it is expected that more state bodies will be tempted to collect or use bulk data.

 From the perspective of fundamental rights, such as the rights to privacy and personal data protection, the use of such bulk data is controversial. Under fundamental rights case law, the legality of using bulk data depends, inter alia, on the necessity, proportionality and subsidiarity of such use. The use of bulk data also raises questions regarding data protection principles such as data minimisation and storage limitation. Some say that intelligence services, the police, and other state bodies should never use bulk data, as the risks to fundamental rights are too large.

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will investigate the use of bulk data by state bodies such as intelligence services and the police. Research questions may include the following:

  • Which state bodies use bulk data, and how?
  • Which fundamental rights are at risk when bulk data are used?
  • Should the use of bulk data ever be allowed, or are the risks too high?
  • Should courts and lawmakers require more procedural safeguards when state bodies use bulk data?
  • Is it relevant whether bulk data are collected from public sources, such as social media ('open source intelligence')?
  • From a privacy perspective, is it relevant whether data are analysed by computers or by humans?
  • To what extent should communications content data and communications metadata be treated differently?

Your duties will include writing scholarly publications in English (and possibly in Dutch); reaching out to a wider audience (e.g. through blog posts); co-supervising PhD candidates; writing grant proposals (either alone or with others); and contributing to the collaborative atmosphere of the iHub and Digital Society programmes.

  • You hold a PhD degree in law, or a related discipline, in a relevant field, such as political science or public administration.
  • You have an an affinity with law.
  • You have a good scientific publication record in relevant journals.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • Knowledge of the Dutch language would be an advantage.
  • You have an interest in, and ideally experience with interdisciplinary research.
  • Researchers who do not meet all the requirements are also encouraged to apply.

We are
iHub , Radboud University's interdisciplinary research hub on digitalisation and society, is looking for a postdoctoral researcher for research into the use of bulk data by state bodies. iHub brings together a diverse range of scholars from across the humanities, social sciences, law, engineering and natural sciences to tackle urgent questions raised by the increased digitalisation and datafication of science and society. iHub's mission is to better understand the effects of digitalisation on our society and to help steer digital transformations in ways commensurate with public values.
Radboud University funds this postdoctoral position in the context of the nationwide Digital Society Programme.
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has brought together 30 leading professors from all fourteen universities to address pressing questions raised by the emergence of a digital society. The academics collaborate on cutting-edge research in the Digital Society programme (link is external) . The Digital Society Programme focuses on seven themes; this position is linked to the 'Safety and Security' theme.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!
We offer
  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 - 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross monthly salary amounts to a minimum of €2,960 and a maximum of €4,670 based on a 38-hour working week, depending on previous education and number of years of relevant work experience (salary scale 10 ).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • It concerns a temporary employment for 3 years.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services . Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions . You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.
Would you like more information?
For questions about the position, please contact Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius, Professor of ICT and Law at .  Alternatively, you can contact Bart Jacobs, Professor of Security, Privacy and Identity at .
Practical information and applying
You can apply until 22 January 2023, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:
  • A letter of motivation.
  • Your CV.
  • An example of a scholarly paper.
The first round of interviews will take place on 6, 7 and 8 February.
You would preferably begin employment on 1 March 2023.
We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure . It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.
Apply now Application deadline 22 January 2023

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Prof. Zuiderveen Borgesius, F.J. (Frederik)
Professor of ICT and Law
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You are an internal candidate if you:
  • Work at Radboud University (i.e. have an employment contract with Radboud University).
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Last modified: 01 December 2022
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