ABOUT

Recent policy, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation, reflects mounting public concerns around emerging data practices, RRI, data ethics and privacy. VIRT-EU addresses these concerns at the point of design through researching and intervening upon the development cultures and ethics of the next- generation IoT innovators. We ask how do European IoT innovators and developers make ethically consequential decisions – about code, hardware and data – for new connective devices? What assumptions about human behavior, privacy and freedom underpin European cultures of IoT innovation?

MAIN OUTCOME

The main objective of VIRT-EU is to affect the design and development processes of technological innovation by integrating PESIA tools with developer practices, resulting in better alignment with ethical and social values of EU citizens.


The 29th of June the 13th IDP conference hosted a Virt-EU panel entitled: Privacy, ethical and social impact assessment of risks in data processing.
Barcelona represented the first venue where Virt-EU researchers exhibited some preliminary research outputs.
The outputs are based on fieldwork studies and legal understanding of both expected and unexpected impact of the next year new General Data Protection Regulation entry into force.

The qualitative dimension of the VIRT-EU project has focused on an ethnographic approach to explore how IoT companies and developers negotiate and enact ethics in their day-to-day working environments. More specifically, the aim of this research process has been to map out a preliminary view of how local culture and network society influence the understanding and movement of social values among technology developers, and how any differences and commonalities have the capacity to influence the development of ethical subjects.

A core aspect of VIRT-EU is the application of a simultaneous qualitative-quantitative methodological triangulation, that is, a methodology where fieldwork at IoT-related events is complemented by an analysis of online data generated about those events, and vice-versa. Relevant actors such as IoT companies and developers are identified during fieldwork, and used as seeds to map the online discussion about IoT. The quantitative study of the automatically collected online information is then expected to identify new central actors to be targeted by the qualitative analysis.

We have been working hard for the last six months learning what are the concerns that trouble innovators, developers and designers working in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT). Security and ethics keep coming up as really important in academia, industry and the media (see f.i. Berman & Cerf 2017 or Waddell 2017).