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Transparency is a key concept for digital societies in the 21st century. It is often considered as something clearly good. But is this the case? In this talk Lea Watzinger conceptualizes transparency as a complex and normatively ambivalent political ideal between openness, control and surveillance. Transparency is demanded in many contexts – and digital practices make it a particularly connectable concept on both an institutional and an individual level. Whistleblowers or activists for instance claim for transparency and openness as democratic and societal goals, which is fair enough. At the same time, popular self-tracking technologies make individuals become transparent and give up their privacy. Individual transparency thus is strongly connected to surveillance which is problematic from a democratic perspective.
Altogether, we can see that transparency is a more complex concept than we might believe and we will understand why this is the case.
Lea Watzinger is a researcher at the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanitites at Tübingen University. She works on philosophical issues of privacy, digitalization, democracy, and AI. In her dissertation at Passau University she discussed transparency from the perspectives of political philosophy as well as media ethics. She studied political science, sociology, law, and philosophy in Munich, Rennes, and Quito.
Eva Groen-Reijman currently works as a postdoc on democratic theory and political microtargeting in the NWO funded interdisciplinary project Safeguarding Democratic Values In Digital Political Practices. She received her PhD (cum laude) for her thesis Deliberative Political Campaigns at the University of Amsterdam.