DEF Debate: on Digital Ethics

01
Mar
2016

Report of the meeting

Download the PDF

 

Introduction

The benefits offered by digital technologies to individuals and society as a whole are mitigated or even endangered by the abrupt change that the evolution and take –up of these same technologies brings.
The speed and complexity of this change seems to lead to a dilution of ethical and social consciousness and a shifting away of accountability and responsibility for personal behavior and its results (“it is the system’s fault”).
The Web as a quality- neutral platform for information and communication offers little in the way of social role models or culture-based norms.

There is much legislating and regulating effort ongoing which however cannot and will not obviate the need for properly and dynamically framing of “digital ethics” by individuals and society to aid and complement what is achieved via the aforementioned legislation/regulation. In addition, any digital ethics framework will increasingly have to include  dealing with decisions by autonomous systems (robots, profiling systems, embedded and connected systems, remote control systems, etc.),  which are still managed  by legal persons.

Such a framework should be based on high level and yet clear principles that citizens recognize and trust. These would include for example: authentication without retention of personal data; proportionality and minimization in data collection and use; reciprocity of consumer vs. service provider; universal access (no digital divide), evolution of democratic processes, sustainability; respect and fairness.

 

Our debate will focus on: which principles are critical for a framework of digital ethics? In doing so we will take account of principles earlier proposed in the DEF debate on digital ethics (see blog post below): authentication without retention of personal data; proportionality and minimization in data collection and use; reciprocity of consumer vs. service provider; universal access (no digital divide), evolution of democratic processes, sustainability; respect and fairness.

 

DEF intends to publish a White Book on the subject of Digital Ethics on the basis of the results of the debate.

 

Further Reading:

 

Draft Agenda

 

13:00           Welcome and coffee

 

13:30           Introduction
                    - Chair: Mireille Hildebrandt (VUB, Radboud Univ Nijmegen)

                    - Bart Tommelein (BE Fed. State Secretary responsible for Privacy)
 

14:00           Statements of Panelists

                   - Luciano Floridi  (Univ Oxford, UK) - Should we triage fundamental values? 

                   - Charles Ess  (Univ Oslo, NO) - Enlightenment and virtue ethics

                   - Hielke Hijmans (EDPS) - EDPS actions on Digital Ethics

                   - Robin Wilton  (ISOC, UK)

                   - Aurelie Pols (MYP) - Ethics for the Data Analyst

                   - Jo Pierson  (iMinds, VUB, BE) - User dis/empowerment by design

 

15:00         Coffee break

 

15:15         Debate

 

17.00         Conclusions and wrap up

 

17.15         Socializing, Drinks

 

Venue

Office of the Federal State Secretary for Privacy Bart Tommelein

Finance Tower, Bd. du Jardin Botanique 50, Brussels, Belgium