The significance of ethical, legal, and privacy issues for our research association can be determined in two aspects. On the one hand, we have high ethical standards concerning our work on research papers. Also, a perfectly legal and privacy-protected approach is assured. On the other hand, we see questions of ethics, law, and privacy related to digital technologies and media as exciting topics of our research.
In projects where new technologies, concepts, and applications are explored, we have to make decisions in the process of development that will have inevitable effects on the system’s implied values. At a first glance, the questions seem to be technical. For example, how is the system architecture designed? Is user data stored in the app or on a server, and how is it encrypted? If we have a closer view, we recognize that these very decisions have consequences on the user’s autonomy and their data sovereignty as well as their ability to control their data with regards to third parties.
Conflicting goals concerning the planned solutions are inevitable. Should a technology promote productivity in work? Is it more important that it is comfortable than it ensures the user’s sufficient exercise? Is there a restriction of a commercial use of the personal data or is it more important to offer apps for free? Who decides what is good for people? In this cross-cutting issue we explore how solutions for conflicting goals can be found for individuals and society. We understand this issue as a perpetual process of assessment, because in most cases it is impossible to predict future consequences of using a certain technology. In the projects, we will develop and use a value-based approach.