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Information Governance Technologies: Ethics, Policies, Architectures, Engineering

Information Governance Technologies: Ethics, Policies, Architectures, Engineering

In the current digital society, data are acquired, recorded and processed by new technologies in ever more areas of life. These types of data increasingly affect decision-making e.g. in economy, administration, and politics. In the cross-university project Information Governance Technologies, researchers from informatics, legal studies and ethics look into human-centered technical possibilities for a responsible handling of data. Aiming to establish a long-term thematic research network (DFG-Forschergruppe), the project financed by the Landesforschungsförderung Hamburg develops an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for Information Governance Technologies. The project also consists of applied-oriented modules, where new methods, patterns and mechanisms will be developed and tested that are able to counteract the loss of autonomy and impairment of democratic self-determination by the use of software.

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Project Description

The research area Information Governance Technologies is concerned with the question how functional rules and regulations in a harmonious society emerge and can be shaped on the interface between social and technical challenges. It is about regulation in a broad sense, that is, involving openness towards various kinds of rule-makers and towards technologies and their implementation. The research area focuses on the consequences for the individual and her autonomy, as it looks into the technical possibilities for shaping the digital society while aiming at a long-term understanding and further development of such technical possibilities.

Transactions in economy, administration services and even political and civil processes are increasingly based on networked information systems. On the one hand, this means a growing insight that informatics has to acknowledge the social effects of information technologies, and has to act accordingly. On the other hand, law and ethics have to address information technologies, so that they are applicable in the digital society.  Currently, technological developments are associated with a loss of personal autonomy and a weakening of democratic self-determination, e.g. to powerful IT companies. Information Governance Technologies, however, focus on how the individual and society can benefit from technology’s potential. In a cooperation between the Department of Informatics at the Universität Hamburg, the Hamburg University of Technology and the Hans-Bredow-Institute, research on the interface between ethics, law and informatics is brought together conceptually as well as practically.

The research area is approached from four perspectives: ethics, architecture, policy and engineering. Image 1 shows these perspectives and two examples of the interplay between them, which are addressed in the scholarly and structural aims of the project. Engineering and architecture depict the information-technical view, whereas policies and ethics represent the societal perspective. In addition, ethics and architecture operate on the level of principles, which have to be translated into regulation (policies) and the design of information systems (engineering) by concrete decision making processes.

The overarching scholarly aims of the research area are:

  • Gain a deeper insight into the interplay between the perspectives of ethics, architecture, policy and engineering;
  • Push the development of new methods, patterns and mechanisms for information governance;
  • Specify the interplay between the four perspectives with the help of exemplary questions in certain application domains;
  • Create a common terminology for answering the basic questions to design information governance systems.

Project Information


Duration: 2017-2020

Research programme:
RP2 - Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Digital Communication

Third party

Landesforschungsförderung Hamburg. Fördermaßnahme „Anschubförderung kooperativer Forschungsverbünde“

Cooperation Partner

Prof. Dr. Tilo Böhmann, Prof. Dr. Hannes Federrath, Prof. Dr. Ingrid Schirmer, Prof. Dr. Judith Simon (Universität Hamburg), Prof. Dr. Sibylle Schupp (TU Hamburg)

Contact person

Florian Wittner
Junior Researcher

Florian Wittner

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