Beyond coding? The future for digital citizens

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Apr 072015

We live in a constantly evolving set of digital landscapes. This is why it is so important to meet often to debate those landscapes and their futures.
Over fifty people gathered together at a policy think tank to help educationalists and policy-makers move beyond the current focus on digital literacy and coding.
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Heads in the cloud? Report on the February 2015 workshop held at Middlesex University

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Apr 072015

Is the cloud the ultimate centralised ICT architecture?” was one of the questions posed by Norberto Patrignani, chair of the new IFIP domain committee on cloud computing at a one-day workshop on the challenges of virtuality and the cloud: the implications of social accountability and professional ethics(1).
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Human Choice and Computers: major societal challenges

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Oct 222014


11th Human Choice and Computers International Conference (HCC11)

Diane Whitehouse, chair, ICT and Society, IFIP TC9

Kai Kimppa, HCC11 co-chair, IFIP national representative to TC9

Forty years since the first Human Choice and Computers conference was held, over 70 people attended the bi-annual ICT and Society flagship conference (HCC11). Attendees came from as far afield as Australia, Japan, South Africa and the United States. There were also many local Finnish, Nordic, and European participants present.

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Ethics and social accountability in ICT: key topics for the future

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Jan 072014

Ethics in ICT matter. And the competences to develop solutions to the infoethics challenges of the early 21st century are likely to be increasingly needed.

First of its kind, a one-day workshop on ethics and social accountability for ICT was held at The British Computer Society (BCS) London Office on October 22, 2013. This was a joint initiative between BCS ICT Ethics Specialist Group and IFIP’s Special Interest Group 9.2.2 on Ethics and Computing and IFIP’s Working Group 9.2 on Social Accountability and ICT. It was led by the two chairs, Penny Duquenoy and Diane Whitehouse. Continue reading »

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Leaders in infoethics launch ethics guidelines

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Jan 072014

Ethical ways of designing, handling, and deploying ICT is a key issue in today’s global society. The complexities of infoethics are increasingly intertwined with people’s daily lives. Having guidelines that help with this is vital. Continue reading »

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Privacy and identity continue to pose dilemmas

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Sep 192013

Diane Whitehouse, Marit Hansen, Jaap-Henk Hoepman, and Ronald Leenes

Some questions around emerging technologies may be technological and organisational, but the longstanding bugbears of privacy and identity management continue to raise their challenging heads. The week of Monday-Friday 17-21 June, 2013, saw an eighth IFIP summer school debate these issues intensively. Its formal title was the International IFIP Summer School on Privacy and Identity Management for Emerging Services and Technologies: Several working groups from both TC9 and TC11 contributed to the programme and organisation of the school: they included working groups 9.2, 9.5, 9.6/11.7, 11.4, and 11.6.

Thought-provoking, and challenging talks were given by over ten keynote visitors. On the social science and economics side, Alessandro Acquisti, Colin Bennett, and David Lyon all paid visits from North America. On the more technical side, talks were given by Jan Camenisch, Simone Fischer-Huebner, Yannis Stamatiou, and Rodica Tirtea. Full details of all these inputs, and more, is at:

Some seventy persons were present – most of them young researchers. While the youngest had recently graduated from a bachelor’s degree, there was also one person present who had just received his PhD last month! Thirty student presentations were given. Student best prize winner was Paulan Korenhof of Tilburg University’s law school, the Netherlands. She explored the controversial notions of erasure and “the right to be forgotten” in her paper entitled Forgetting bits and pieces. All contributors – and especially the young researchers – are being encouraged to submit their work to the school’s outcome publication, a book to be published by Springer-Verlag in 2014.

Several European Union (and other) co-financed projects contributed with presentations and people. Among them, ABC4Trust, the Cloud Accountability project (A4Cloud), DigIDeas, Future ID, and PRISMS. Several sidebar workshops organised by these projects took place at the school.

The school took place at the Hotel Erica, in the “hills and dales” of Berg en Dal in the Netherlands, thanks to the kind hosting of Radboud University and Tilburg University‘s Privacy &Identity (P&I) Lab.

Since play as well as study is always important in such learning settings, evenings were spent at Holland’s national bicycle Velorama Museum and on a local pancake boat trip, sailing along the River Waal



Summer school attendees queue up to enjoy a pancake boat trip

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Why good people do wrong and what to do about it

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Sep 192013

Diane Whitehouse, Chair IFIP WG9.2 and Penny Duquenoy, Chair IFIP SIG9.2.2

On Friday 14 June, 2013, IFIP’s special interest group on the framework of ethics of computing and its working group 9.2 on social accountability and computing met in a joint meeting. The venue was the University of Southern Denmark in Kolding, Denmark as a follow-up to the well-known ETHICOMP (2013) conference. Nine attendees and guests from Europe and North America discussed pressing issues. A further joint meeting is to be held in London, England in October 2013 in conjunction with the BCS ICT Ethics Specialist Group.

A welcome guest at the session was Professor Don Gotterbarn of East Tennessee University, USA, Chair of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)’s Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) and ACM representative to IFIP TC9. Don spoke on “Professional Responsibility and Ethical Reframing: Why good people do wrong 
and what to do about it.” His basic message was: “We train computer practitioners to dividecomplex problems in order to solve them. Yet it is human nature to focus only on these narrow frames. As a result, practitioners either miss or overlook broader ethical issues. Ethics education is required to help people focus on a broader framework and address the socio-technical issues of their work. ICT ethics education is really not optional.”

This talk acted as a fundamental step for considering the content of IFIP TC9’s next international Human Choice and Computers (HCC) 11 (HCC11) which will be held in Turku, Finland from 30 July-1 August, 2014. The conference’s content was further considered in an IFIP TC9 meeting held on the following day.




IFIP WG9.2 and SIG9.2.2 members and friends meet over supper in Kolding, Denmark

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Sustainability, social accountability, and computing: a workshop

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Jun 232013

With the support of IFIP Working Group 9.9 on ICT and sustainable development, Working Group 9.2 held a well-attended workshop on Saturday 16 February, 2013 at ETH’s Main Building in Zurich, Switzerland. It followed the very successful ICT4S conference

Among the 20 people attending the workshop, attendees came from Australia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, the USA, and the host country, Switzerland.

Among the speakers were Don Gotterbarn, De Montfort University (UK); Iordanis Kavathatzoupoulos and Ryoko Asai, Uppsala University (Sweden); Patricia Lago, VU (Netherlands); Giovanna Sissa, Universita degli Studi di Milano (Italy); and Diane Whitehouse, Chair IFIP WG9.2 social accountability and computing.

Important messages from the workshop were the need to bring sustainability and environmental topics together with a critical framework for assessing sustainability in a more societal or social way. The diversity of the different disciplines represented, and the potential for cross-disciplinarity research and action was also striking.

On summarising, the attendees emphasised three core topics of future interest to them: change and transformation; philosophy and ethics; and technology.

Change and transformation

  • How can we change products, solutions, and legislation?
  • Openness, engagement, and potential for transformation.
  • ICT products, rebound effects and Jevons’ paradox.

Philosophy, ethics, and the work of designers and engineers

  • Engineers, ethics, and sustainability.
  • Framing awareness, concerns, and ethics.
  • Long-term issues.
  • Reflecting on how society is speeding up; “sometimes we need to slow down”.


  • ICT and its unexpected consequences and outcomes; the value of the unexpected.
  • Tools for stakeholders to use to further sustainability in terms of ICT.
  • The web and its complexity.

Talk Downloads

Patrignani_It’s not your father’s computing

Lago_An Online Library

Kavathatzopoulos_IT security and sustainability

Whitehouse_European Group on Ethics

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Digital Futures: what future for ICT in 2050?

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Jun 142013

Do you think about the future? What do you visualise? How do you see technologies developing in the future? What kind of society will we live in?

These were the kinds of questions posed on Friday 28 September 2012, at a short envisioning exercise was held at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Fifteen people attended the session. All came from IT backgrounds. Yet they all also had a deep concern for ICT, society, and ethical challenges. Their origins were continents and countries as widespread as Africa, Australia, the USA, and Europe (Belgium, Finland, Sweden, the UK).

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_4

People’s concerns were both utopian and dystopian. While there was hope, there was also a lot of anxiety about the near future and the further future of humankind. Oftentimes, the good was counterbalanced by the threatening. Briefly, concerns included: “Will being part of an artificial intelligence-based global network in an era of instant communications, ‘growing up Google’ from birth, drive what it is to be human?” “What will it mean to have smart cities, pod cars, and renewable energy if we entirely lose sight of what it is to be human?” On the other hand, it was feasible to see the option of: “Having choice! And anticipating a big ‘anti-digital movement’.”

After a first round of priority-setting, the attendees self-selected to join three discussion groups. The three foci were: control (Group 1); education, research, and the planet (Group 2); and the loss of human contact (Group 3).

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_3

Led by Kai Kimppa of Turku University, Finland, the first group was interested in the challenges of control, both technological and societal. The discussants covered circumstances pertinent to information security and privacy, as wide-ranging as cities, food, energy, sustainability, and values. Many of their concerns were serious and profound. Yet, among the more creative ideas, was the notion, 30 years from now, of being able – à la fictional hero, Harry Potter – to have a “personal cloaking device”, to wear like a chador, so as not to be visible at all times.

Based on the inputs from this group, a draft vision snapshot was written later which began: “In 2050 we are all born digital, RFID chips and body implants were placed under our skin after birth in the hospitals. Identity cards will not be needed as information is stored ‘inside’ us. At a global level, we are concerned about better security and the right to ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ anytime from the digital world. […]”

Participants at Digital Futures workshop

Facilitated by Magda Hercheui of Westminster University, UK, Group 2 focused on education, research, and the planet. In this group, there was a real sense of a desire for people to align themselves better as individuals and collectively, and with the planet. The group desired to remain open to dreams and desires, particularly for human well-being and for planetary well-being.

The third group, which worked on the loss of human contact, was animated by Renier van Heerden of  CSIR, South Africa. Here, group members spoke of the potential for the loss of human contact between cliques, groups, and generations. They also explored the differences between the real and the virtual: “Who we are as human beings, what is human warmth, and what might it be like to lose contact with ourselves in a more virtual world?” Notions such as dangerisation were also raised.

These discussions encourage ways of looking towards a vision of 2050, as well as to consider the policies and trends of the more immediate years until 2020 and 2030. Like the Long Now Foundation,[1] they create ideas for living not in the year 2013 but in 02013 (i.e., starting to count out time using five digits, not four)!

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_2

The final feedback on the session was positive. The attendees enjoyed discussing and working together, forming a sense of civic intelligence.[2] They found the interactivity exciting and stimulating. It was fun to fantasise with people, knowing that humankind has already been on a 50,000 or 60,000-year or more journey together. Interesting, technology was far from being the main focus of the discussions: humanity, social relations, and ethics really came to the fore.

This workshop took place at the end of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Technical Committee’s 9’s (IT and Society) Human Choice and Computers 10 (HCC10). It was facilitated by Ms Bernadett Koteles-Degrendele of the European Commission’s DG Connect and Ms Diane Whitehouse, Chair, IFIP working group 9.2 social accountability and computing. These Digital Futures workshops continue regularly, organised by the European Commission in conjunction with many other organisations. All those interested are absolutely invited to join in, and to build the future together! Much can already be done directly online. More information is available at: and its Futurium

[1] Long Now Foundation (accessed 10 June 2013).

[2] See the work of Doug Schuler, Evergreen State college, US; online presentation made from Seattle, Washington, US, as a part of the Human Choice and Computers 10 (HCC10) conference (accessed 10 June 2013).

 Posted by at 11:10 am

Identifying the eleventh IFIP WG9.2 Namur Award winner Professor Stefano Rodotà … identity remains a challenge

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Oct 142012

On Friday 28 September 2012, IFIP WG 9.2’s paid tribute to the lifelong achievements of Professor Stefano Rodotà of Rome’s La Sapienza University, Italy.

Prof. Rodotà was awarded the eleventh IFIP WG9.2 Namur Award. The award is accorded for an outstanding contribution with international impact to the awareness of social implications of information technology. It is to draw attention to the need for a holistic approach to the use of information technology in which the social implications have been taken into account. Ten earlier awards have been given every two years since 1989.

Prof. Rodotà has a longstanding commitment to a humanistic and holistic view of data protection, data privacy and identity. The award recognises the effects that Prof. Rodotà’s studies, teaching, public speaking and writing, and political and policy activities have had in Europe and internationally on legal and ethical approaches to data protection and privacy.

There remain, however, many dilemmas – including identity – that affect human beings in a digital world. Prof. Rodotà’s award speech on “Identity between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0” outlined the challenges of knowing what is an identity in today’s fragmented digital society in such domains as law, philosophy, sociology and technology.

Prof. Stefano Rodota receiving the IFIP WG9.2 Namur Award certificateThe award has mostly been given in the Belgian city of Namur, the birthplace of the concept of the award. However, this year it was decided to integrate it in the HCC10 conference. Greetings from Namur were brought by Ms Laurence Masclet, Namur University, on behalf of Namur Award Committee chair, Prof. Philippe Goujon. Some forty attendees to the ceremony included TC9 chair, Dr Jackie Phahlahomohlaka, CSIR, South Africa and several TC9 national computing society country representatives. The chairs of IFIP WG 9.7 Martin Warnke of Leuphana University, Germany, WG9.9 Magda Hercheui of Westminster Business School, UK and SIG 9.2.2 Penny Duquenoy of Middlesex University, UK, were all present. The award and certificate themselves were given to Prof. Rodotà by WG 9.2 chair, Ms Diane Whitehouse.

Professor Stefano Rodota giving his Namur Award speech

The Italian press has reported on the award, story available here.

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