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Trust in technology: interlocking trust concepts for privacy respecting video surveillance

Sebastian Weydner-Volkmann (Institute of Philosophy I, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany)
Linus Feiten (Department of Computer Science, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 16 August 2021

Issue publication date: 13 December 2021




The purpose of this paper is to defend the notion of “trust in technology” against the philosophical view that this concept is misled and unsuitable for ethical evaluation. In contrast, it is shown that “trustworthy technology” addresses a critical societal need in the digital age as it is inclusive of IT-security risks not only from a technical but also from a public layperson perspective.


From an interdisciplinary perspective between philosophy andIT-security, the authors discuss a potential instantiation of a “trustworthy information and communication technology (ICT)”: a solution for privacy respecting video surveillance. Here, strong data protection measures address grave concerns such as the threat of bulk biometric tracking of citizens. In a logical argument, however, the authors show that this technical notion of “trust” needs to be complemented by interlocking trust relations to justify public trust.


Based on this argument, the authors demonstrate that the philosophical position considering “trust in technology” to denote either “reliability” or “interpersonal trust” is too limited as it fails to address critical aspects of IT-security. In a broader, socio-technical sense, however, it is shown that several distinct accounts of trust – technical, interpersonal and institutional – should meaningfully interlock, to address concerns with ICTs.


This conceptual study demonstrates the potential of “trust in technology” for a more comprehensive evaluation of ICTs within the context of operation. Furthermore, it adds to the discussion of trust in IT-security by highlighting the layperson’s challenge of judging a technology’s trustworthiness. Vice versa, it contributes to Ethics of Technology by highlighting crucial IT-security needs.



Weydner-Volkmann, S. and Feiten, L. (2021), "Trust in technology: interlocking trust concepts for privacy respecting video surveillance", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 506-520.



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