New Research Study by iRights.Lab and DIVSI on Trust

The iRights.Lab runs a project on “Trust in Communication in the Digital Age” and has conducted a study to analyse which central role trust in digital communication plays and under which conditions it is justified.

The Deutsche Institut für Vertrauen und Sicherheit im Internet (DIVSI) has commissioned the think tank iRights.Lab  to carry out an extensive analysis on the subject of “Trust in Digital Communication” by the end of 2017. The project assumes that there is a need für secure and trustworthy communication among citizens, especially when personal, sensitive or intimate information is being shared, be it with a bank, an insurance company, a doctor or a government agency. The problem is: Although digital communication becomes more and more natural to us, several events in the past have shown that our data is not as safe and secure as we thought it would be. This leads to a loss of trust.

First, it is examined how the process of digitalization has influenced trust in cummunication. Second, it is not only determined which conditions have to be met so that users can feel safe when communicating online but also which players can contribute to this by what means. During the course of the project, two discussion papers have been prepared and different figures from the fields of politics, economics, science and civil society have been consulted.

This now published research paper provides the final results of the project. Not only does it outline the current state of trust in digital communication, it also addresses the reasons for the common distrust. It subsequently discusses the necessary requirements for trust on the internet. On the basis of the findings, the paper presents “five principles for secure digital communication” which might restore the users’ lost trust when implemented:

  1. Digital communication of sensitive information should be safe and reliable.
  2. Applied technology should be user-friendly.
  3. The safety standards should be made transparent for the users.
  4. The user should be offered alternative – also analogue – means of communication.
  5. The choice of a certain mean of communication should not result in different costs for the users.

The final paper can be downloaded here (German, PDF, ~ 2 MB).

The two discussion papers can be downloaded here and here (both German, PDF, ~ 1 MB).