Violent Extremism, Vulnerability and the Limits of Confidentiality


  • Carlotta Rigotti


  • Harald Weilnböck
  • Jedrzej Niklas
  • Schielan Babat
  • Nóra Ní Loideáin

Organisation: VUB FRC

Room: Online 2

Timing: 17:15 - 18:30 on 28 January 2021

Exit counselling means to facilitate deradicalisation and personal growth, so that clients distance themselves from anti-democratic and violent-extremist thinking and behaviour. Exit counselling therefore implies intensive work with most sensitive personal and family/community issues – sometimes resembling psychotherapy; it thus requires voluntary participation, confidentiality and the processing of personally-identifiable data. Yet, by working in an inter-agency scenario, exit practitioners are often asked to report and/or give risk-assessments about clients. Besides, data protection issues around exit programs are often misunderstood as conflict between individual rights and state security interests, with the consequence of disregarding the vulnerability of both the clients and democracy itself and its quintessential separation of powers/functions. Although the GDPR does not explicitly define vulnerable data subjects, clients should be protected because of the higher risks of damages arising to data processing and/or to the outcomes of such processing.

• How to define vulnerable data subjects in exit counseling, within the data protection framework?
• How is the right to data protection of clients ensured in the inter-agency setting of exit programs?
• To what extent is the professional secrecy of exit practitioners limited by security concerns, having special regard to the right not to testify in court?
• Are there alternatives to further balance the vulnerability of clients and the professional secrecy of exit workers against security concerns?


Carlotta Rigotti

Fundamental Rights Research Centre, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (BE)

Carlotta Rigotti holds a master’s degree in law (110/110 cum laude) from the University of Turin. In addition, Carlotta got the International and European Legal Studies Certificate from the Antwerpen Universiteit. After completing her legal traineeship in Turin, she joined the VUB Fundamental Rights Research Centre in June 2018, to provide research assistance on the DESIRE project (to curb demand for sexual exploitation). later became a PhD candidate on ‘criminal law at the intersection between technology and sexuality’. Carlotta is also working on two European Union funded project, namely EXIT Europe (to prevent and counter violent extremism) and PANELFIT (to develop participatory approaches to a new and ethical legal framework for ICT).


Harald Weilnböck

Cultures Interactive (NGO, DE)

Harald Weilnböck (Ph.D) works both as practitioner and as researcher of good practice methods in prevention and rehabilitation in school and prison settings, focusing on right-wing extremism. He studied and worked in the US, France, Switzerland and Germany and received his Ph.D. at UCLA (Los Angeles) and his professorial degree in Leipzig. Harald also completed training in group dynamic psychotherapy. In 2005 he co-founded the NGO Cultures Interactive, helped building up the EU’s RAN network and conducted numerous EU and national projects – currently the “Exit Europe” and the “CEE Prevent Net” project on Central and Eastern Europe.

Jedrzej Niklas

School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University (UK)

Jędrzej Niklas is Research Associate at School of Journalism, Media and Culture and the Data Justice Lab. In February 2020 he joined European Research Council-funded project DATAJUSTICE. His current research explores the role of emerging digital technologies in the operations of state and public institutions and their social justice implications. He is author of several journal articles and reports related to data-driven technologies, human rights and political theory. He holds a PhD in law (international public law) from the University of Warsaw.

Schielan Babat

Türkische Gemeinde in Schleswig-Holstein e.V./PROvention (DE)

Schielan Babat has an M.A. in “Peace Research and International politics”. She has started working in the field of prevention of religiously justified extremism in 2016 as part of the project “PROvention. Prevention and counselling centre against religiously justified extremism in Schleswig-Holstein”. Since mid-2017, she has been project manager of “Kick-off. Prevention and deradicalisation in prison and probation in Schleswig-Holstein” at the Turkish Community in Schleswig-Holstein.

Nóra Ní Loideáin

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London (UK)

Dr Nóra Ní Loideáin is Director of the Information Law & Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. Her research and publications focus on human rights and technology, particularly within the contexts of law enforcement and national security in EU and ECHR law. Her affiliations include: Associate Fellow, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI), and Research Associate, Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law (CIPIL), University of Cambridge. Nóra is a member of the UK Home Office Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG), the Board of Trustees for the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII), and an editor of International Data Privacy Law (Oxford University Press).