Institute for Information Law (IViR)

Money talks? The impact of corporate funding on information law research

Institute for Information Law (IViR)

In the fall of 2019, the Institute for Information Law and the European Hub of the Network of Centers, together with HIIG, organized a one say symposium on the impact of corporate funding on information law and policy research. Now, the report of the meeting, which sums up the main findings, concerns and some recommendations, is published.

Corporate funding is a contentious issue in information law and policy research.

We invited academic research institutions, as well as junior and senior scholars to reflect on the issues around corporate influence on research through money, data, infrastructure, access.

The rapid, but consequential shifts in the digital landscape in terms of technological innovation, dominant economic actors, power relations, social, political structures, transform the environment of academic research which aims to address the legal and policy issues around those changes. More and more issues, such as content moderation, intermediary liability, digital advertising, algorithmic discrimination, the accountability of AI systems are framed as regulatory dilemmas. As a result, legal research is both in growing demand, and has gained visibility, and significance. As the future rules of the information society are shaping up in the discussions led, or at least prominently shaped by information law research, the temptation to influence it also increases. Research institutions must acknowledge the shifting landscape and the growing stakes. Challenges at that scale require more than individual integrity: there is a need for institutional solutions that on the one hand can actively assess, and mitigate the potential harms in each individual case, and on the other hand, is able to actively shape the funding landscape, and the norms around funding.

Here are some of the findings included in the report:

  • The discussion on funding must include data, infrastructure deals, and other forms of indirect funding;
  • Sometimes corporate funding is the only way to get access to critical resources;
  • Transparency is a must, but not a silver bullet to deal with funding;
  • It is difficult to set up universal a priori norms of which type of funding is acceptable in which situations;
  • Academia may need new institutional solutions to review funding, and manage the potential risks of funders taking over the agenda, research bias, and reputational harm;
  • Public funding bodies are part of the problem as much of the solution.

You can find the full report here:

Bodó, B., von Schwichow, H, Appelman, N (2020). “Money Talks? Report on the one day symposium on the impact of corporate funding on information law research”. Amsterdam: Institute for Information Law; Berlin: European Hub of the NoC.

The program committee of the symposium was: Dr. Balázs Bodó, Prof. Dr. Mireille van Eechoud, Prof Dr. Nico Van Eijk, Sarah Eskens, Prof. Dr. Natali Helberger, Prof. Dr. Joris van Hoboken, Prof. Dr. Bernt Hugenholtz


Institute for Information Law Twitter: @ivir_uva

Contact for scientific information

Dr. B. Bodó, Institute for Information Law, E-mail:, Twitter: @bodobalazs