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).