cover image: Agency in the Internet of things.


Agency in the Internet of things.

27 Jan 2014

This report summarises and extends the work done for the task force on IoT terminated in 2012. In response to DG CNECT request, the JRC studied this emergent technology following the methodologies pertaining to the Science and Technology Studies field. The aim of this document is therefore to present and to explore, on the basis of present day conceptions of relevant values, rights and norms, some of the “ethical issues” arising from the research, development and deployment of IoT, focusing on agency, autonomy and social justice. We start by exploring the types of imaginaries that seem to be entrenched and inspiring the developments of IoT and how they become portrayed in “normal” communication from corporations and promoters to the ordinary citizen (chapter 2). We report the empirical work we have conducted, namely the JRC contribution to the limited public debate initiated by the European Commission via the Your Voice portal during the Spring of 2012 (chapter 3) and an empirical exercise involving participants of two IoT conferences (chapter 4). This latter exercise sought to illustrate how our notions of goodness, trust, relationships, agency and autonomy are negotiated through the appropriation of unnoticed ordinary objects; this contributes to the discussion about ethical issues at stake with the emerging IoT vision beyond the right to privacy, data protection and security. Furthermore, based on literature review the report reflects on two of the main ethical issues that arise with the IoT vision: agency (and autonomy) and social justice (chapter 5), examining eventually governance alternatives of the challenged ethical issues (chapter 6).
information technology internet governance new technology ethics research and development autonomy teletex research report eu research policy eu programme eu office or agency protection of privacy


Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, Joint Research Centre

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