Conference paper Open Access

Societal and Ethical Issues of Digitalization

Nabbosa Veronica; Kaar Claudia

The paper intends to analyze two timely trends: Digitalization and associated Digital Ethics, both of which are deepening their roots globally. Data is thought to be the cornerstone of these trends: where once firms were overwhelmed by large quantities of unused structured and unstructured data, they are increasingly adapting their operations and value creation models, guided both by new digital tools and the data themselves. Website cookies, mobile applications, and surveillance cameras, as well as data from third-party vendors, have thus become the new “digital oil”, as firms exploit process and customer data in pursuit of digitalization. Established firms’ core business models have shifted in response to data availability: Apple Pay and Google Pay (operating systems), AliPay (e-commerce), and Lufthansa’s Miles & More purchase enabled loyalty card (travel) emerged from old, established businesses. Still, other firms are partially or wholly digitizing existing business processes in order to respond to the challenges posed by digitalization. Banks, for instance, are using fingerprint and facial recognition to make their services more convenient and to improve security. These developments are not only visible among competitive private sector firms: the public sector is also becoming digitalized, not only to promote efficiency but also to promote transparency and accountability. However, customers and citizens are waking up to the fact that their information is being collected by both private and public entities, and have begun to demand control and transparency. Governments and other regulating bodies (ISO, ACM, and IEEE, among others) are taking a more proactive role in responding to these demands. This paper will delve into the tensions inherent in digitalization, zooming in on digital ethics, shifts in societal values, utilitarian benefits and risks, the future of digitalization, the role of technology in digital ethics, and other themes which could impact all society stakeholders and raises question about ethical issues in several topics.

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