Meet: Fiona Theobald - "A transatlantic perspective on data privacy law"

Interview with Joachim Herz Fellow Fiona Theobald about her research and the reason Bucerius Law School was her first choice for her research stay abroad.

Forschung & Fakultät / Internationales |

What is the major focus of your research in the US and here at Bucerius? What are the main issues in your research area?

"My research focuses on comparative data privacy law, in particular data privacy regarding biometric information (such as fingerprints and retina scans). One exciting aspect of data privacy law is that it is quickly evolving. Although the concept of a right to privacy was first articulated in American law over a century ago (and existed in common law even before that), rapid technological advancement means that governments and corporations now have access to a much broader array of personal data. As a result, it is not always clear how existing data privacy laws apply to new technologies or how legislatures can best design laws that will adapt to these changes."

Why did you decide to conduct your research in Germany, and at Bucerius in particular?

"After participating in Bucerius' international exchange program two years prior, it was an easy decision to return to Bucerius and Hamburg. As an international student, I was very impressed by the faculty, staff, and students who I met, as well as Bucerius' campus, and Hamburg is a wonderful city in which to live and work. The European Union's broad-ranging General Data Protection Regulation is also an ideal foil for the United States' narrower and more industryspecific approach to data privacy, so Germany was a natural fit to conduct this comparative research.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your stay at Bucerius, and what would you recommend to others who are thinking of applying for such a research stay?

I very much appreciated the feedback I received from my supervisor Professor Linda Kuschel and others in the Bucerius community, which helped me refine my research. The staff of the International Office also made navigating the German visa process a breeze. I would wholeheartedly recommend a research stay at Bucerius.

You spent three months in Germany. How did you feel about living here? What was the biggest challenge in settling in Hamburg?

Hamburg is beautiful and has plenty to see and do (and eat!), but it does not feel overwhelming. The public transportation is also excellent. My biggest challenge, as many Hamburg residents can attest, was finding housing, but I ended up finding a flat that suited my needs perfectly.


More about the Joachim Herz Fellowship Program

About Fiona Theobald

Fiona Theobald is an alumna of Stanford Law School who participated in the Bucerius International Exchange Program in 2018. The topic of her current research project is "Comparative Analysis of United States and German/European Regulations Regarding Data Privacy Protection for Consumers and Criminal Suspects". She is supervised by Professor Dr. Linda Kuschel, Junior Professor for Civil Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Law and Digitalization at Bucerius Law School.