My name is Esther Keymolen and I am a full Professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society. I also am the Vice Dean of Research of TLS. I have a background in philosophy of technology and postphenomenology. I also hold a Bachelor’s degree in pop music. My research focuses on the role of trust, trustworthiness and privacy in networked and smart environments. In particular, I focus on the first-person perspective, so what does trust and trustworthiness mean for a user of an AI application.  In my book Trust on The Line, I developed a conceptual trust model, which I apply to analyze different topical cases, such as: Airbnb, smart cities, smart toys, digital hotel keys, and personalized online advertisement.  My work has also appeared in several newspapers, documentaries, and on Dutch television. Previously, I worked for the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and at Leiden University (eLaw, Centre for Law and Digital Technology)


With a background in philosophy of technology and data ethics, I analyze the way in which technologies mediate our interactions with ourselves, other people, and the world around us. The starting point of my research is, therefore, that to understand how people go about their privacy in everyday life, we have to examine how they place trust in technologies. My research is multidisciplinary in nature. Methodologically, it relies on case studies and refers to practical problems. Theory-building on experiential aspects of privacy contributes to research in philosophy of technology as well as to socio-legal debate about privacy and data protection. Understanding privacy through the lens of trust leads the discussion in a promising direction, with more attention to data subjects’ expectations, vulnerabilities, and changing values inherent in a mediated trust relation.


I teach in the course Data Ethics and Entrepreneurship (previously called Law, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship) at the master Data Science in Business and Entrepreneurship at JADS,  in Den Bosch. In addition, I am a guest lecturer for many different programmes and organisations (e.g. TIAS, Academie voor Wetgevingsjuristen,  Leiden University, JADS professional learning)



I am a core member of TAISIG (Tilburg Artificial Intelligence Special Interest Group). TAISIG aims to combine, coordinate, and strengthen AI activities at the university and to emerge recognizably as a key player in the regional and national AI domain. In addition, it aims to facilitate and accelerate the development of new research proposals and grant applications. TAISIG is divided into three clusters: AI algorithms and methods, AI applications and concepts, and ELSA (Ethical, Legal, and Societal Aspects of AI). Together with Prof. Ronald Leenes, I chair the ELSA cluster. Feel free to reach out if you want more info on this initiative.


Together with dr. Jurgen Goossens, I co-lead the NWO MVI research project CHAIN. This interdisciplinary, 4 year project investigates how distributed technology - in this case blockchain - combined with smart contracts (rule-based algorithms) can be designed in a transparent and legitimate way, so that citizens can trust the government.

Recent publications

  1. Trustworthy tech companies - Talking the talk or walking the walk?

    Keymolen, E. (2023). Trustworthy tech companies: Talking the talk or walking the walk? AI and Ethics.
  2. Explanation and agency - Exploring the normative-epistemic landscape …

    Jongepier, F., & Keymolen, E. (2022). Explanation and agency: Exploring the normative-epistemic landscape of the “right to explanation”. Ethics and Information Technology, 24(4), 1-11. [49].
  3. On the good of the university

    Keymolen, E. (2022). On the good of the university. In A. ten Klooster (Ed.), The good of the university: Critical contributions from the Tilburg Young Academy (pp. 4-5). Tilbug University Press.
  4. Can we trust trust-based data governance models?

    van der Sloot, B., & Keymolen, E. (2022). Can we trust trust-based data governance models? Data & Policy, 4, 1-19. [45].
  5. Happy city, of een nieuwe grondwet voor de 21ste eeuw

    van der Sloot, B., & Keymolen, E. (2022). Happy city, of een nieuwe grondwet voor de 21ste eeuw. In J. Goossens, J. de Poorter, G. van der Schyff, T. Geldof, & C. van Oirsouw (Eds.), Rechtsvorming in een hypercomplexe samenleving: Bundel n.a.v. de Staatsrechtconferentie 2022 (Tilburg University) (pp. 233-275). Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP).

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