Trustworthy ICT Research for the IT Security Industry.
A collaboration of IT Security Associations.
Supporting the competitiveness of the European IT Security market
and defining the research agenda.

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FIRE publishes a report on how to address societal concerns regarding legal and privacy issues in ICT-related projects

The technology by itself doesn’t overcome societal challenges. However, technological solutions do. A technological solution is then a much broader concept than technology itself so its design involves elements beyond simple protocols or broadband needs.

User involvement in project design is currently a trend. In fact, sometimes it is perceived as a panacea to overcome most market failures of R&D results. However, this trendy concept is vaguely taken into account in the context of IT Security, since it involves many different aspects as related to organizational issues, societal or individual concerns, contextual specific nature, etc. They all can facilitate or hamper the market penetration of the innovative product.

societal concerns coverWhat are the current barriers to market success of trustworthy ICT R&D solutions due to societal barriers? FIRE project has addressed this question. First, an initial set of 110 projects in the field of Trustworthy ICT were selected to be analyzed. After an initial analysis, a core of eleven out of them was studied more in depth: Seven barriers were identified and documented. These results were improved later through workshops of experts where further results were identified.

From this analysis process, FIRE has recently issued the report Addressing societal concerns on legal and privacy issues in ICT-related projects. The report is aimed, on the one hand, at providing a better understanding of these barriers to adoption, informing the industry and the researchers about the possible reasons why some technologies may fail to enter the market. On the other hand, it intends to be taken into account in developing and assessing future R&D activities.

Furthermore, the report includes recommendations and useful information to the industry, researchers and policy makers in order to successfully overcome social barriers for technology adoption.

The main identified barriers could be summarized in: Firstly, a exclusion of end-users from development exists, since, either users have not been sufficiently asked or they have been asked following an inadequate methodology, the targeted market segment has not been coherently identified or the view has not been updated enough; Secondly, there is an incompatibility with the user context. The problem addressed by an IT security project is usually important for the potential user and the solution could be acceptable. However, the implementation ordinarily requires too much time or effort, its costs are too high, it is not interoperable with current systems, it is too complex or the context of users involved in R&D development is not the same than those intended to be customers. Thirdly, FIRE found out that technology goes sometimes faster than regulation. In this context, adoption entails too much uncertainty, like when the standardization framework is evolving or the business case is no clear. Forth, there is no perceived need for the technology, because there are already functional substitutes, the problem to be solved is not deemed or because there is a collective efficiency that doesn’t motivates individual decisions. Fifth, in many situations, the solution fits perfectly for some users who could be willing to adopt it but they don’t know about it: there is insufficient communication. In the sixth place, lack of usability is a well-known barrier to adoption that, luckily, has positively and fast evolved along last years but deserves special attention. Seventh, the lack of trust is one of the most difficult barriers to face, because it can’t be done individually and it is composed of many ingredients. A growing social worry that can make users reluctant to adopt or reject some new solutions is the potential invasion of privacy. Finally, it is clear that market tends to data collection and the terms and conditions of applications are usually difficult to understand. The lack of empowerment can prevent, for instance, a buyer organization from investing in technology or adopting more integrated solutions.

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