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PhD candidate Blockchain and Law

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) has a vacancy for a PhD candidate Blockchain and Law. 
Blockchain technology, especially its open, non-permissioned variant was designed to operate without any central legal authority, making its regulation ...

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Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


The Institute for Information Law (IViR) has a vacancy for a PhD candidate Blockchain and Law.

Blockchain technology, especially its open, non-permissioned variant was designed to operate without any central legal authority, making its regulation challenging for a regulatory framework that is essentially geared towards centralized actors. The regulatory history of digital networks, such as peer-to-peer file sharing networks suggests that in the long run few technologies are immune to regulation. The effectiveness of a policy response to a quickly developing technology depends on its ability to simultaneously address substantive and technical challenges. The substantial challenge is finding the right balance between an innovation-friendly hands-off approach, and other, more pressing policy priorities, such as combating cybercrime or providing more efficient, transparent, accountable public services. The technical challenge that regulatory authorities (on national, European and international levels) face is how to avoid badly chosen policy tools that result in regulatory stalemates (as is the case with online copyright enforcement), or leave substantial gaps in regulation (as in the case of protecting users’ privacy online).

As a PhD candidate, you will be researching the regulatory issues, and emerging practices around various blockchain applications. Your tasks may include the following.

  • creating an inventory of policies by collecting (publicly accessible) policy documents, background studies, legal texts, court cases, and the texts of legislative processes (including documents of the political debate) from the EU, the US, or elsewhere, that address blockchain technology;
  • integrating these materials with the empirical evidence gathered in the other activities of the Blockchain&Society Research Lab. Providing a legal analysis and comparing these policies in terms of their potential impact and effectiveness in managing the aforementioned technical and substantive challenges;
  • based on this analysis and comparative assessment, provide policy recommendations for improvement of the regulation of blockchain technology within of the EU legislative framework.


Candidates are expected to meet the following requirements. You have:

  • an LL.M. or Master’s degree in law, with a focus on European Information Law, Intellectual Property Law, Information Technology law or related fields;
  • a strong understanding of the EU law;
  • familiarity with the fundamentals of at least one, non-European (US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, etc.) legal system, with substantial blockchain related activity;
  • a strong interest or (preferably) a degree in any of the following disciplines: sociology, economics, political science, computer science, or science and technology studies;
  • experience with blockchain related practice is a plus;
  • experience or interest in multidisciplinary research;
  • an interest in contributing to the relevant policy debates;
  • fluency in English;
  • creative, critical thinking;
  • reliability and autonomy.


The successful candidate will be offered an initial contract of one year, the first 4 months will be used to draft the so-called research and supervision plan (OBP). Upon positive evaluation of the PhD students’ performance after the first year the contract will be extended by initially 1 and subsequently 2 years.

The appointment salary will range between €2,222 to €2,840 (scale P) gross per month according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities based on a full-time appointment. The UvA offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, an 8.3% end of year allowance and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Additional information

For further information, please contact:

To apply please submit the following items (preferably in one file) in Word or PDF format electronically to solliciteren-fdr@uva.nl attn. selection committee:

  • your CV;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • a written piece (e.g. a master’s thesis);
  • two letters of reference;
  • a short research proposal (2000 words max), which sets out questions you would like to investigate in the context of our research framework and linked to the particular research strand mentioned. Locate these in the relevant literature and indicate the method you intend to use to answer the research questions indicated.

Only complete applications will be considered.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 28 February 2018.


With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

Institute for Information Law (

The Institute for Information Law (IViR), officially established in 1989, is one of the largest research centres in the field of information law in the world. The Institute employs over 25 researchers who are active in an entire spectrum of information society related legal areas: intellectual property law, telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, media law, Internet regulation, advertising law, domain names, freedom of expression, privacy, digital consumer issues, commercial speech, et cetera.

IViR is the host institution of Dr Balazs Bodo’s ERC Starting Grant Blockchain & Society. The Blockchain&Society Research Lab is comprised of innovative scholars in the field of technology governance, who speak and understand the language of multiple academic disciplines and discourses, and are able to bridge academic research and practice.

2017 was the year of bitcoin, and blockchain based applications in general. The hype around cryptocurrencies, and the promising technical design of blockchain technologies pushed the idea of the Distributed Ledger Technology beyond the narrow confines of finance, and enabled its use in other social domains. Entrepreneurs, blockchain enthusiasts, libertarian technologists, governments, and blue chip corporations try to express and/or re-design complex social, economic, political and legal institutions, practices using digital tokens, distributed ledgers, and smart contracts.

Millions already use blockchain-based services every day, and many public services and private institutions are trying to cope with the (promise of) disruption. Despite the wide spectrum of blockchain applications and their ability to disrupt fundamental societal processes and institutions, there is very little research on their non-technical, societal, economic, policy and legal implications. .

The goal of the Blockchain&Society Research Lab is to look beyond the short-term hype, and assess the impact of blockchain innovation from a long-term societal perspective.