You have reached the former access point to an ambitious research and innovation project named SPECIAL (European Commission funded grant no. 731601) that ran over a 3-year period from 2017 to 2019. We are maintaining this web site for documentation purposes, as SPECIAL contributed to advance the state of the art by delivering technology to reconcile the contradiction between Big Data innovation and data protection compliance requirements. SPECIAL solutions are based on the principles of privacy by design and privacy by default. Concretely, SPECIAL results have the potential for significant impact on Policy Language and Vocabularies, prototypes of dashboards and consent and control UI, reusable architectural components and other. Over 40 scientific articles were published during the project lifetime.

We invite you to explore the information and deliverables archived on this site, and for further inquiries related to SPECIAL and it's follow-up activities, please contact ERCIM Projects Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The SPECIAL project (Scalable Policy-aware Linked Data Architecture For Privacy, Transparency and Compliance) addresses the contradiction between Big Data innovation and data protection compliance requirements by proposing a technical solution that makes the achievement of both of these goals realistic. SPECIAL allows citizens and organisations to share more data, while guaranteeing compliance with data protection, thus enabling both trust and the creation of valuable new insights from shared data.

We develop technology that:

  • supports the acquisition of user consent at collection time and the recording of both data and metadata (consent policies, event data, context) according to legislative and user-specified policies;
  • caters for privacy-aware, secure workflows that include usage/access control, transparency and compliance verification;
  • demonstrates robustness in terms of performance, scalability and security, all of which are necessary to support privacy preserving innovation in Big Data environments; and
  • provides a dashboard with feedback and control features that make privacy in Big Data comprehensible and manageable for data subjects, controllers, and processors.

Our vision will be realised and validated via real world use cases that – in order to be viable – need to overcome current challenges concerning the processing and sharing of data in a privacy preserving manner. In order to realise this vision, we will combine and significantly extend big data architectures to handle Linked Data, harness them with sticky policies as well as scalable queryable encryption, and develop advanced user interaction and control features: SPECIAL will build on top of the Big Data Europe and PrimeLife projects, exploit their results, and further advance the state of the art of privacy enhancing technologies.

WU is the technical coordinator of the project. The consortium partners are the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz (ULD), the Centro Regionale Information Communication Technology (CeRICT), the Technische Universität Berlin (TU-Berlin), TenForce, PROXIMUS/Belgacom, Deutsche Telekom AG and Thomson Reuters.

The SPECIAL project is a Research and Innovation Action funded under the H2020-ICT-2016-1 Big Data PPP call (Privacy-preserving Big Data technologies, ICT-18-2016). The project started on the 1st of January 2017 and will continue for three years.

Download the flyer (PDF)
Go to our publications page
Go to our resources overview

Project news

See also project news


This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 731601

Legal Notice | Privacy Policy