Privacy Icons Forum: Joint online platform on data protection is launched

Privacy Icons Forum (PIF) - this is the name of the new joint online platform which will be launched today under the auspices of Research Group 4 "Data as a Means of Payment" of the Weizenbaum Institute. The PIF is a collaboration of institutions and research projects dealing with data protection and the development, design and implementation of a standardised privacy symbol system for data protection (Privacy Icons).

In addition to the Weizenbaum Institute, the PIF’s joint initiative includes as founding institutions the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust of the University of Luxembourg, the Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca in Storia del Diritto, Filosofia e Sociologia del Diritto e Informatica Giuridica of the University of Bologna, the Einstein Center Digital Future and the University of the Arts Berlin.

What is it all about? Anyone wishing to use online services such as Facebook, Google or Airbnb must first accept their privacy statements and terms of use. Most people almost reflexively click "accept" without even having read the privacy statement first. At the click of a mouse, companies are allowed to collect, evaluate and pass on personal data – often for years – if the user does not  come up with idea of revoking consent at some point.

In fact, privacy statements are intended to inform users about what happens to their data. The majority of privacy statements, however, contain spongy phrases and require a reading competence that matches the level of university graduates. In addition, they are hardly manageable in terms of length.

This is where the "Privacy Icons" project of Research Group 4 "Data as a Means of Payment" comes in: Its goal is to develop a tool for the visual communication of information that could complement the complex, written privacy statements in the future: An easy-to-understand, standardised symbol system can increase awareness by showing users certain data protection aspects with potentially negative consequences before they give their consent. The project aims to increase awareness of the choices and risks concerning online data collection and data usage.

The PIF provides information related to initiatives at the Weizenbaum Institute and elsewhere around the world such as events, scientific articles and studies on the development and design of privacy icons. The aim is to strengthen cooperation between the participating institutes, create synergies and achieve coordinated research on online data protection. The PIF offers actors from science, industry and society the opportunity to network and exchange information with leading research institutions in the field of privacy icons.    

The Privacy Icons Forum is available at:

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