IDHEAP’s Public Law and Regulation Unit focuses on four areas of research:

Regulating digital platforms and AI technologies: Digital platforms and AI technologies are omnipresent in our daily lives and play a pivotal role in our economic and social environment. While these tools undoubtedly generate positive economic and societal effects, they also pose risks to our political, cultural and social foundations/structures. This first area of research examines how digital platforms and technologies affect the functionality of the State and broader society dynamics.

Technologies as regulation: Information technologies serve as crucial tools for influencing the behaviours of individuals and groups. They have a regulatory effect on private individuals, including in the workplace. While these technologies are primarily developed by private actors, their use spans across the private and public sectors. The proliferation of information technologies within public administrations introduces unique challenges, particularly in adapting to the evolving dynamics. Indeed, technologies, especially systems incorporating artificial intelligence, are often labelled as black boxes. Their integration raises questions about the principles of the rule of law, especially transparency, access to information, equality, privacy and non-discrimination. This second area of research is interested in studying how to regulate the use of information technologies by public authorities (parliaments, judiciary, public administration) and private actors (workplace environments).

Technologies and the transformation of public administration:  In the modern era, public authorities increasingly turn to technological tools, including intelligent assistive technologies (IATs) and artificial intelligence, to fulfil their missions effectively. The integration of technologies in the public sector is not without its challenges. The use of AI and other digital tools must navigate the complexities of ensuring due process and safeguarding fundamental rights while simultaneously unlocking the potential these technologies hold for enhancing public service delivery. This area of research examines risks and opportunities. For instance, the use of IATs by parliaments can foster the political rights of people with disabilities, and the integration of software by the judiciary or the use of generative AI technologies by public administration raises questions about compliance with traditional legal principles such as transparency, accountability and the principle of legality.

Data governance: Data is essential to the functioning of the economy and public administration. Managing this ‘new’ resource generates many issues for its custodians and those who process it, whether the data are public, personal and private, or highly sensitive. This fourth area of research examines the institutions and procedures that enable public administrations to use this resource in their organisation and functioning and even make it available to different private and public actors.

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Prof. Sophie Weerts
Unit director
+41 21 692 69 60


Rue de la Mouline 28 - CH-1022 Chavannes-près-Renens
Tel. +41 21 692 68 00
Fax +41 21 692 68 09