Privacy Icons

Make data protection understandable

When surfing the Internet, personal data of users are processed. With the introduction of the DS-GVO – the basic data protection regulation – in the EU, there is an extensive transparency obligation according to which data processors must inform data subjects about the processing of data. Currently it is mostly cookie warnings that appear when a website is called up. Prof. Dr. Max von Grafenstein (Einstein Center Digital Future / Universität der Künste Berlin) would like to use the research project "Privacy Icons" to develop pictorial symbols that indicate data processing and its extent.

In addition to Max von Grafenstein, the project team includes Timo Jakobi, who researches the design of privacy in networked devices at the University of Siegen, and Kevin Klug, whose research focus is on data protection.

The pictorial symbols to be developed are intended to convey the scope and consequences of the processing of their personal data, i.e. their meaning, to those affected (e.g. website users) in a particularly simple and intuitively understandable way. The pictorial symbols are intended to supplement, not replace, the classic text. So if users want to know in detail what the symbols mean in concrete terms or what happens to the data in concrete terms, they can continue to click on a text level that shows this in a higher level of detail. The DS-GVO stipulates that this information should be machine-readable on a third level. This enables, for example, so-called privacy agents. These are technologies that pass on users' privacy preferences to other technologies (such as websites) on behalf of users. Users would then no longer have to click on everything themselves, but would be able to do so automatically.