Press Release: 'If you don't talk about ethics when it comes to digitalization, you'll lose your orientation'

18. October 2018

At a panel discussion of the "Forum Privatheit" research association, experts and citizens in Munich discussed what is necessary to give digitalization a direction that also adequately takes into account the interests of data.

As a computer scientist, "Forum Privatheit" member Marit Hansen is open to the opportunities of digitalization. As data protection commissioner for Schleswig-Holstein, however, she is also aware of the dark sides and advocates a prudent use of data that respects the privacy of consumers. In any case, she does not want digitalization at any price. "We think the how is very important. Data protection-friendly technology solutions from research offer interesting approaches here and must now be put into practice."
Digitalization must improve people's living conditions
Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Lukas, head of the "Research for Digitalization and Innovation" department at the BMBF, also argues in a similar direction: "It is not only a question of bringing the new into the world with the help of digitalization. The aim is to improve people's living conditions with the opportunities offered by digitalization. It's not just about speed, it's about direction. Those who only talk about ethics will not make progress. But if you don't talk about ethics at all, you lose your bearings." For management consultant Wolf Ingomar Faecks, who accompanies corporations in digital transformation processes, Germany has not yet acted fast enough in digitalization: "Other countries and companies are accelerating, while we are doing backward-looking enlightenment. Our coquetry with digital ignorance has not helped us." The Dutch scientist and net activist Prof. Dr. Geert Lovink countered this by saying that we should no longer think only in terms of application, but also in terms of consumer protection. The research landscape must rethink, as must Brussels. He hopes that Germany will play a pioneering role - as it did at the time of the development of the European Basic Data Protection Regulation.
Data protection should be a sales argument
The sociologist and consumer protection expert Prof. Dr. Jörn Lamla also sees opportunities for consumers. "The challenge, however, is to prioritise the opportunities. Unfortunately, there is currently only one perspective: profitable economic value creation. But this is only one of several value aspects that are at stake in data economics". Basically, there are "weak and strong interests". "We must ask ourselves whether the institutions that protect consumer interests, such as TÜV, antitrust authorities, data protection authorities or consumer protection associations, are still correctly positioned for current and future tasks - or whether consumer policy does not need to be more strongly integrated into the technology design itself. He takes advantage of the presence of Faeck's business representative to make a corresponding request: "Support the development of a business model that represents an attractive counter-model to the prevailing or Chinese model due to the offensive inclusion of data and consumer protection - and let's make this model an export hit together".

In the Privacy Forum, experts from seven scientific institutions deal with questions relating to the protection of privacy in an interdisciplinary, critical and independent manner. The project is coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI. Further partners are Fraunhofer SIT, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Scientific Center for Information Technology Design (ITeG) of the University of Kassel, the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Independent State Center for Data Protection Schleswig-Holstein. The BMBF supports the Forum Privatheit in order to stimulate public discourse on the topics of privacy and data protection.

Press Release available for download
Press Release

Organisation der Jahreskonferenz „Die Zukunft der Datenökonomie“:

Prof. Dr. Jörn Lamla
Fachgebiet Soziologische Theorie
Universität Kassel
+49 (0) 561 / 804-2185

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess
Institut für Wirtschaftsinformatik und Neue Medien
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
+49 (0) 89 / 2180-6391

Projektkoordination „Forum Privatheit“:
Dr. Michael Friedewald
Projektkoordinator „Forum Privatheit“
Fraunhofer-Institue for Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Competence Center New Technologies
Tel.: 0721 6809-146

Press and Communication „Forum Privatheit“:
Barbara Ferrarese, M.A.
Press and Communication „Forum Privatheit“
Fraunhofer-Institue for Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Tel.: +49 721 6809-678