Legal Questions in Data Science

To keep up with growing possibilities of data collection and processing, laws and regulations have been changing in recent years. This allows for relatively new and therefore often unknown legal situations, which cause uncertainties and affect data driven research. Researchers often wonder what effect privacy regulations have on the processing of their data and which data they can share according to copyright law.

Data protection and copyright are important aspects of research data management and play a crucial role in the exchange and (further) use of research data in business, economics and the social sciences. At the same time, dealing with applicable legal regulations is often not one of the core competences of researchers. That is why the tools and information on this site will help you navigate you through the jungle of copyright and privacy law, allowing you to focus on the essential: scientific research.

interactive Virtual Assistant: iVA

Privacy law is incomprehensible and non-transparent? Not necessarily.

We have developed an interactive Virtual Assistant (iVA), an online tool that supports data users in understanding the basics of data protection (regulations) and explore the legal options for using data.

With specific questions, short examples and precise definitions, iVA guides you through a decision tree. It does not only present theoretical knowledge but provides you with information that you can apply directly to your own data project.

As shown below, iVA consists of different but consecutive modules. Each module focuses on a specific data protection question, which researchers face when dealing with data.

iVA was developed as part of the project BERD@BW, funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg from 2019 to 2022.

Applicability of the GDPR

iVA 1 shows you if the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to your research data.

Start here (DE)

Start here (ENG)

Consent as legal basis

iVA 2 helps you identify what you have to keep in mind to get a lawful consent for data processing.

Start here (DE)

Start here (ENG)

…other legal bases

iVA3 guides you through the process of determining whether data processing in the context of your research project meets a federal or state legal basis.ntly working on iVA 3, which is going to teach you the requirements of lawfully processing personal data without consent of the data subjects.

Information obligations when collecting personal data

The basis of fair handling of personal data is the data subject’s knowledge of what is happening with his or her data. Especially when the data processing depends on the consent of the data subject, it is essential that the data subject is informed.

We compiled an overview of those information obligations for you here:


We are currently working on a collection of answers to your most frequent legal questions around Data Science.