Emmanuel Salami by Ridwan Oloyede.jpg
Emmanuel Salami. Photo: Ridwan Oloyede

Dissertation: The current definition of personal data may hinder AI's widespread, lawful and successful deployment


In his doctoral dissertation, Emmanuel Salami critically examines the data protection and intellectual property intersections that affect Artificial Intelligence. Salami argues that the (non-)regulation of one of these fields of law might raise concerns in the other, thereby necessitating the consideration.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are a disruptive and potentially intrusive technology. As a result, assessing AI’s compliance with existing data protection and intellectual property law is necessary. The importance of the focus areas of Salami’s doctoral research is the interconnectivity between both fields for all stakeholders involved.

The interconnectivity between both domains stems from the fact that an Intellectual Property (IP) law regulatory effort of AI might create compliance gaps in data protection law.

– For instance, an attempt to appropriate or exercise IP rights over non-personal data might violate data protection law for various reasons, including data reidentification, Salami explains.

The data that identifies natural persons – e.g. vehicle identification numbers – amounts to personal data within the scope of Article 4(1) GDPR, even when it is being processed without any intention of identifying or re-identifying natural persons.

– The research argues that such restrictive classification and definition of personal data may hinder AI's widespread, lawful and successful deployment because supposedly anonymized and non-personal data may still be re-identifiable with the aid of AI systems, thereby subjecting it to data protection law. The implication is that very few categories of data will genuinely qualify as non-personal data, potentially limiting the scope of data available to AI systems.

The overarching question that Salami’s research attempts to answer pertains to the feasibility of retaining the definition of personal data as it is today and its possible effects on AI.

– As a solution, my research proposes the redefinition of personal data within the scope of EU law to cope with the circumstances highlighted above.

Information on the public examination

The academic dissertation "Artificial Intelligence: the end of Legal Protection of Personal Data and Intellectual Property? Research on the countering effects of data protection and IPR on the regulation of Artificial Intelligence systems" by Emmanuel Salami will be publicly defended with the consent of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lapland and will be presented for public inspection on Friday 12 January 2024 from 12 noon in lecture hall C147. The opponent is Professor Burkhard Schafer (Edinburgh Law School), and the Custos is Professor Rosa Maria Ballardini (University of Lapland).

The public defence can be followed online at at https://blogi.eoppimispalvelut.fi/ulapland2/

Information on the doctoral candidate

LLM Emmanuel Salami is a Privacy Counsel for a global tech company and a researcher at the University of Lapland in Finland. He has authored articles in data protection and intellectual property law as it pertains to AI.

Further information

Emmanuel Salami, emmanuel.salami (at) ulapland.fi

Information on the publication

Emmanuel Salami (2023) Artificial intelligence: the end of legal protection of personal data and intellectual property? Research on the countering effects of data protection and IPR on the regulation of artificial intelligence systems. Acta electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis. University of Lapland, Rovaniemi.

Permanent address of the electronic publication: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-337-399-0