Legal, Ethical and Privacy considerations when creating technology to address sexual assault and harassment - ON-198

Preferred Disciplines: Law, Ethics, or Privacy (Masters, PhD or Post-Doc)
Company: VESTA Social Innovation Technologies
Project Length: 8-12 months (2 units)
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Toronto, ON
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: Preference is for GTA; however, if a partner/intern is not found, the second choice is Montreal

About the Company: 

Vesta Social Innovation Technologies is on a mission to create safe spaces.  Vesta empowers organizations and communities to create safe, inclusive and productive spaces by building research based technology to address sexual assault and harassment.  Our aim is to help organizations create safer workplaces, campuses and ultimately, safer communities.

Working from Ryerson’s Legal Innovation and Social Ventures Zone, Vesta S.I.T is a start-up looking to make an impact and effect global change by creating a multi-disciplined platform that puts the individual at the centre of the investigative and legal processes. Vesta gives them the ability to take control of how, when and where they share their experience. By streamlining the path to justice, Vesta will encourage more to come forward and file a formal report. Authorities will receive a reliable record of events which will support and facilitate the investigative process, leading to higher arrest and conviction rates.

Project Description:

There may be 2 projects:

The first project is to understand the legal ramifications or considerations of using technology, particularly a chatbot to interact with individuals who have experienced harassment or assault.  Issues surrounding priviledge, privacy, disclosure and discovery, in particular.  Are there legal precendents to be considered? How do we mitigate risks to the user and to the organization?

The second project is how do we incorporate Privacy by Design and what informed consent looks like in a technological context.  The impact of GDPR and the  implications of the use of technology to gather evidence that can be used in a court of law.

Research Objectives:

  • Conduct legal research by analyzing statutes, cases and regulations and summarizing information for application to a particular situation or use case
  • Conduct research on emerging technologies and trends and their impact in the legal landscape
  • Create use studies for legal risk assessment and strategy


The expectation is that there will be a combination of different methodologies applied to the projects including:

  • Theoretical (to some extent)
  • Comparative (to some extent)
  • Emperical (surveys and interviews)
  • Socio-legal

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Demonstrated research and effective writing skills;
  • The ability to accurately analyze information and deal with ambiguity;
  • The ability to work under tight deadlines,
  • The ability to handle a variety of activities simultaneously and adaptable to changing priorities

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects
  2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform