IGF 2020 WS #101 Towards an Ethical Approach for New Technologies


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Marjolijn Bonthuis, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Auke Pals, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Tijink Daniel, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Debate - Classroom - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

How can we get the best value out of data-driven business models for individual and collective wellbeing and sustainable economic development? How can the use of new technologies be stimulated responsibly?

By giving the session, we try to contribute a little bit to an even more valuable world. In this way, technology is guided in society and vice versa; society is guided in its handling of technology. We aim to expand the approach. Especially for companies, governments, and social groups, this approach can be of added value.


GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 12: Responsible Production and Consumption


Many technological developments raise ethical questions. These often have the character of a dilemma: whether or not it is acceptable to apply this technology. As a result, a framework is lacking to address ethical questions and concerns constructively. Moreover, to give technological developments a desirable direction, rather than merely embracing or condemning them. The interpretation of technology-ethics as accepting or rejecting technology places technology and society in opposition to each other. In this approach, technology poses a potential threat to society, and it is the responsibility of ethics to determine whether or not a new technology can be accepted. However, this picture is wrong. On the contrary, technology and society are fundamentally interconnected. This interconnection of technology and society entails a different role for ethics. Instead of seeing ethics as 'judging,' it could also be seen as the normative 'guiding' of technology in society. At the same time, ethics can also guide society in its dealings with technology. Such an approach does not place ethics outside technology but in the middle of it. The question is then 'how' and under what conditions a technology can get a responsible place in society. In the Netherlands, a methodology has been developed for this purpose. In the session, a case will be used to demonstrate how an ethical approach can be applied in practice. Afterward, we discuss this with various experts.

Expected Outcomes

The methodology leads to new opportunities for society and the economy. By organizing the session, we try to promote internationally how to look at new technologies from the perspective of opportunities.

The session starts with a short presentation about the methodology for an ethical approach for new technologies. After that, we will start a debate about the methodology. Therefore, we discuss potential questions in advance with the speakers. Next to it, the audience will get the opportunity to ask questions.

Relevance to Internet Governance: How to deal with new technologies is a question that is always part of the IGF. Through our session we give a handle on how to look at new technologies in a responsible way.

Relevance to Theme: The session contributes to the discussion about the fundamental challenge of ensuring the benefits of the data revolution to contribute to inclusive economic development while protecting the rights of people. This session presents an ethical framework for data-driven technologies that is in balance with human rights.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.