The ‘Ethification’ of ICT Governance. Artificial Intelligence and Data Protection in the European Union

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Several European Commission's initiatives have been resorting to ethics in policy discourses as a way to govern and regulate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The proliferation of invocations of ‘ethics’, especially concerning the recent debate on (the regulation of) Artificial Intelligence (AI), can be referred to as the ‘ethification’ phenomenon. This article aims to elucidate the benefits and drawbacks of the ethification of ICT governance, and its effects on the articulations of law, technology and politics in democratic constitutional states. First, the article will provide a mapping to locate where the ethics work is being produced in the EU. Second, the authors will distinguish different types of ethics based on the mapping. Third, the ethification phenomenon will be analyzed through the concepts of boundary and convergence work, where we will both see that it plays the role of ‘normative glue’ between interests of different practices to reach a common goal, but also tracing or obfuscating boundaries to claim autonomy from the law and exclude forms of non-genuine ethics. Fourth, we inquire into the nature of ethics as a practice and the consequences of ethification for the law.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105597
Number of pages14
JournalComputer Law & Security Review
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2021


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