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11/13/2019 | Campus-Meldung

Privacy and Trust on the Web: Research Training Group continues to receive funding

The German Research Foundation is funding the Research Training Group "Privacy and Trust for Mobile Users" for another four and a half years, providing around six million euros. Two departments at the University of Kassel are also participating.

Image: Blafield.

At the latest since smartphones have digitally connected people globally and the Internet of Things is networking more and more technical devices, the protection of privacy and trust evaluation are among the most pressing challenges of digitization.

However, privacy and trust have always been of elementary importance for society and the economy; therefore, psychology, social sciences, economics and law must be interdisciplinarily linked with computer science, especially since the digital and real worlds are increasingly merging. How can users protect themselves from uncontrolled disclosure of private information on the Internet? On the other hand, how can they benefit from the controlled disclosure of data? How can the trustworthiness of processes, data and actors on the Internet be better assessed for users? How do digital collectives form - and act - in social networks?

Since 2015, a Research Training Group (RTG) on the topic of "Privacy and Trust for Mobile Users" has been working on questions like these. On the part of the University of Kassel, the department heads Prof. Dr. Jörn Lamla, Department of Sociological Theory, and Prof. Dr. Gerrit Hornung, Department of Public Law and IT Law, are involved. The legal work supervised by Prof. Hornung is mainly in the research area "Privacy and Trust in Sensor-Based Environments". The work supervised by Prof. Lamla analyzes, from a sociological perspective, social media as a socio-technical system and the role of networks in establishing and anchoring trust. The Research Training Group is led by the Technical University of Darmstadt, with the Goethe University Frankfurt also participating. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has now decided to fund the Research Training Group for a further four and a half years and with more than six million euros.

Search for incorruptible authorities

While the Research Training Group was conducting broad research into privacy protection and trust evaluation and developing new solutions in its first phase, the European General Data Protection Regulation came into force. With it, it became definitively clear that individual users could not truly exercise their privacy rights if they were left to make the "well-informed decisions" required by law on their own.

For this reason, the second phase of the Kolleg will include research into so-called intermediaries: this refers to trustworthy instances that act as quasi incorruptible and perfectly trained notaries between users and Internet actors. Can 'digital collectives' - comparable to the open source movement for software development - master this task or rather supranational institutions, possibly even software agents based on artificial intelligence?



Sebastian Mense
University of Kassel
Communication, Press and Public Relations
Tel.: +49 561 804-1961
Email: presse[at]uni-kassel[dot]de
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