Job Opening: Anonymity, Privacy and Internet Access

The Nexa Center for Internet & Society at the Politecnico di Torino (DAUIN) seeks two bright, proactive and motivated researchers for the following job posting.

Title of the project and main objectives

Title: Identifying Internet users: technical, legal and economic analysis of the consequences on privacy, fundamental freedoms, innovation and business models.
The project concerns the growing possibility of identifying Internet users and tracking their on-line activities. This issue is to be analyzed from a multidisciplinary point of view, taking simultaneously into account technical, legal and economic aspects and their consequences on privacy, fundamental freedoms, innovation and business models.
The topic is very broad. To start from a specific example, the research is to be focused, at least initially, on the Italian Decree 27/07/2005, n. 144 (now Law n. 155 of 31 luglio 2005). This law was adopted as an emergency measure to fight terrorism and to increase the safety of citizens and of national infrastructures and currently conditions Internet access on the strong identification of Internet users (via picture I.D., or, in recent cases, via SMS). While enhanced safety is certainly a worthy societal objective, the consequences on privacy and other fundamental freedoms of citizens, but also on innovation and business models, have so far not been investigated. Among the issues involved are: the widespread availability of Wi-Fi in Italy, the adoption of advanced technologies, such as wireless mesh networks, the likelihood that shopping malls or bars offer free Internet connection to their customers. A rational costs-benefits analysis, therefore, has so far not been possible, preventing the identification of solutions representing a widely agreed upon trade-off between, on the one side, enhanced protection from criminal activities and, on the other side, individual and entrepreneurial fundamental liberties.
The impact of the aforementioned Italian law, therefore, is to provide the initial case study for the research project, but would not represent the exclusive focus of the analysis. The research, in fact, should provide a comparative analysis of the situation and similar laws in OECD countries; furthermore, the Nexa Center for Internet & Society intends to study this and similar issues and their social and economic impact, with the goal of reaching a deeper understanding of the interrelationship between anonymity, privacy and Internet access.

Additional information

The project will be supervised by the directors of the Nexa Center for Internet & Society and will take place in coordination with the staff of the Center.
For additional information about the Nexa Center for Internet & Society, see:
This job opening concerns a research grant ("assegno di ricerca") for the duration of 1 year (in principle, renewable) and with a yearly salary of euro 17,700 (entirely tax-exempt under Italian fiscal laws).
The deadline for the submission of applications (and of the required documents) is (soon to be published). Please, see the link below for additional information.
The selected applicants are expected to start their research activity on 1st November 2009.

Selection criteria

The selection will be based both on the curricula, publications and other relevant documents submitted by the applicants (deadline: soon to be published) and on an interview that will take place on (date soon to be published) in Turin, Politecnico di Torino, DAUIN, third floor

Topics of the Interview

Internet: architecture and main technological characteristics; Elements of computer & Internet Law; Economics of innovation and economic analysis of law (i.e. elements of the law and economics of innovation); the Italian Decree 27/07/2005, n.144 (today law 31 luglio 2005, n. 155) and other laws and bills concerning the identification of Internet users: effects on innovation, on business models, on privacy and on the digital divide in Italy. During the interview, the curriculum of the applicant will be discussed (along with the submitted publications and other relevant documents) and the degree of proficiency of the applicant with respect to the English language will be tested; for foreign citizens some basic communications skills in Italian will also be tested.

Relevant topics for the applicants' publications and curricula

Computer & Internet law and interaction between law and digital technologies, with special reference to privacy related issues; Economic analysis of law (law&economics), with particular reference to the interaction between the legal system and innovation; Economics; Wi-fi networking, identification and monitoring of users.

Required degree

The research grant is open to researchers holding one of the following degrees:
Degree in Economics, Statistic Economic and Social Sciences, Econometrics, Law, Computer or Software Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Engineering of Telecommunications or equivalent foreign degrees (please, see the official call LINK for a detailed list of admissible degrees).
Applications from post-doc researchers are appreciated, but holding a Ph.D. is not a formal requirement for applicants.

The official call for applicants (in Italian) will be available soon on the Politecnico website.

Applications should follow the formal procedure described at the above mentioned link, but - if you need additional information - please feel free to contact the Nexa Center for Internet & Society at the following address: info [at] nexa [dot] polito [dot] it, object "Job Opening 2/2009: Anonimity, Privacy and Access" or call +39 011 564 5956 during business hours (CET).