Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 639–658

Protecting Human Health and Security in Digital Europe: How to Deal with the “Privacy Paradox”?


    • Institute for Biomedical Ethics (IBMB)Universität Basel
  • Rostane Mehdi
    • UMR CNRS 7318 Droits International, Comparé, Européen (DICE)Aix-Marseille University
  • Anne Cammilleri
    • Master 2 Sécurité et Défense, Intélligence Stratégique SE-DEFISSciences Po
  • Yousri Marzouki
    • Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, CNRS, UMR 7290Aix-Marseille University
  • Bernice Elger
    • Institute for Biomedical Ethics (IBMB)Universität Basel
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11948-013-9511-y

Cite this article as:
Büschel, I., Mehdi, R., Cammilleri, A. et al. Sci Eng Ethics (2014) 20: 639. doi:10.1007/s11948-013-9511-y


This article is the result of an international research between law and ethics scholars from Universities in France and Switzerland, who have been closely collaborating with technical experts on the design and use of information and communication technologies in the fields of human health and security. The interdisciplinary approach is a unique feature and guarantees important new insights in the social, ethical and legal implications of these technologies for the individual and society as a whole. Its aim is to shed light on the tension between secrecy and transparency in the digital era. A special focus is put from the perspectives of psychology, medical ethics and European law on the contradiction between individuals’ motivations for consented processing of personal data and their fears about unknown disclosure, transferal and sharing of personal data via information and communication technologies (named the “privacy paradox”). Potential benefits and harms for the individual and society resulting from the use of computers, mobile phones, the Internet and social media are being discussed. Furthermore, the authors point out the ethical and legal limitations inherent to the processing of personal data in a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Finally, they seek to demonstrate that the impact of information and communication technology use on the individuals’ well-being, the latter being closely correlated with a high level of fundamental rights protection in Europe, is a promising feature of the socalled “e-democracy” as a new way to collectively attribute meaning to large-scale online actions, motivations and ideas.


PrivacyInformation technologyHealthSecurityFundamental rightsData protectionDemocracy

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014