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On the Lack of Legal Regulation in Conceptual Modeling

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Advances in Conceptual Modeling (ER 2022)

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The act of conceptual modeling can be empowering, to the point where control over the conceptual schema becomes a means of power. In our discussion of conceptual modeling at the legal and computer science crossroads, we present real-world scenarios from the social domain where conceptual modeling has the power to actively or accidentally reshape the real world. For practical reasons, we primarily focus on examples from civil registers in Germany. We demonstrate that this power is de-facto unregulated by law (in Germany and elsewhere), and that the responsibilities for impactful decisions are rarely properly accounted for. Awareness seems to be—by and large—lacking, both in law and legal science, as well as within the modeling research community.

S. Scherzinger’s contribution was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) grant #385808805.

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  1. 1.

    The (German) Personenverbandsstaat, a technical term in historic sciences, describes a “state order based on personal ties” and refers to the feudal system of medieval Europe: Feudal ties formed people and rulers into a pyramid-style system order which helped manage large kingdoms, practically without any written documents.

  2. 2.

    Details go deep into constitutional theory and are specific to each constitutional system so that we cannot address this here in detail.

  3. 3.

    BVerfG [German Federal Constitutional Court], decision of 10-Oct-2017, 1 BvR 2019/16—Drittes Geschlecht [Third Gender].

  4. 4.

    The EU Database Directive 96/6/EC, introduced in Sect. 2, does not meet this expectation: It establishes no more than an auxiliary database right, and only within the European Union. Furthermore, it merely covers the content of databases, not the conceptual schema as such. While originally envisioned as a universal model for IP law, it was not adopted by any other major legislations outside the EU.


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We thank Meike Klettke and the anonymous reviewers for feedback on this article. We thank Thomas Kirz for expertly LaTeXing the illustrations.

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Correspondence to Stefanie Scherzinger .

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von Lewinski, K., Scherzinger, S. (2022). On the Lack of Legal Regulation in Conceptual Modeling. In: Guizzardi, R., Neumayr, B. (eds) Advances in Conceptual Modeling. ER 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13650. Springer, Cham.

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