Digital Legal Lab

law & tech predictions for 2022

We’re wrapping up 2021 by asking Digital Legal Lab researchers what the new year can bring for law, technology, society and all things in between.

30 December 2021

2022 promises to be a pivotal year for the Commission’s European Data Strategy. Indeed, while the first instrument of the strategy, namely the Data Governance Act, is on the brink of being adopted, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which are both entering the trialogue negotiation, will likely be more debated. As these regulations will shape digital services for the next decade, it will be vital to reach a reasoned compromise. Finally, the last piece of the Strategy, namely the Data Act, will be proposed by the Commission during the first trimester of 2022. Originally destined to be proposed in December 2021, it seems that the Commission is struggling to define the exact scope and objectives of this Data Act. In this regard, it will be important to ensure that this last piece of the puzzle fits well with the other pieces of the Strategy, as well as with existing legislation such as the GDPR. Indeed, any incoherent or unclear overlaps must be avoided, as the existing regulatory framework is already complex and challenging to implement, especially for SMEs.

Thomas Tombal

Post-doctoral researcher, Tilburg University

The European Commission has been busy this year with its many technology and data-related regulatory proposals, including the proposed AI Act, the Data Act, and also in the area of platform work with the draft EU Platform Work Directive. With a flurry of new proposals, I expect that there will be increased lobbying on all fronts, particularly by private actors. My hope is to see the Commission take more bold stances in banning certain technologies, to devise meaningful enforcement and compliance mechanisms, and to look to other perspectives, such as the labour one. The draft EU Platform Work Directive, for example, has improved transparency and algorithmic management rights, which will hopefully supplement the GDPR. Beyond the EC, however, I do hope that the discourse around technology will continue to be developed through a social justice lens, and to centre the most affected communities in thinking and reimaging the type of technologies we want in our societies.

Jill Toh

PHD researcher, University of Amsterdam


I expect:

Much more debate about the many EU proposals, such as the Digital Services Act, the AI Act, and the Working Conditions for Platform work directive.

The European Commission will publish a proposal for a Media Freedom Act. 

I hope that some sleeping EU proposals will be finally finalised, in particular the ePrivacy Regulation and the General Non-Discrimination Directive. But I don’t dare to have any expectations on those files, sadly.

Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius

Professor of Law, Radboud University

2022 has a lot to offer for legal tech enthusiasts. The AI Act has set a challenge to find new ways to optimise the processes of compliance and risk assessment. The pandemic has accelerated the work of digitalisation in legal practice and courts to ensure continued services. As a result, there is now more data than ever before that has the potential to be structured as linked data to provide new empirical insights of the patterns in law. It is a great time to pay more attention to how technology can support legal researchers and practitioners. The Netherlands is quickly becoming a hub for law students wanting to enter this field with most major universities offering courses in law and technology. Lastly, one of my hopes is that the movement towards sustainable legal informatics and shared science in law will continue growing this year.

Rūta Liepina

Assistant professor in digital legal studies, Maastricht University