Data Protection and Privacy: (In)visibilities and Infrastructures

Volume 36 of the series Law, Governance and Technology Series pp 31-57


Is There a Right to Offline Alternatives in a Digital World?

  • Murat KarabogaAffiliated withFraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research Email author 
  • , Tobias MatznerAffiliated withInternationales Zentrum für Ethik in den Wissenschaften, Universität Tübingen
  • , Hannah OberstellerAffiliated withUnabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz Schleswig-Holstein
  • , Carsten OchsAffiliated withUniversität Kassel Fachbereich 05 Soziologische Theorie

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More and more offline devices are weaved into the Internet of Things. Besides beneficial effects, the ubiquitous digitization also poses substantial risks for users’ privacy and self-determination. In this paper, we discuss whether a right to offline alternatives, hence to lead a non-digital life, might be a reasonable demand to counter such worries. In the search for answers, we investigate the – possible – societal utility and reasonability of such an ambition, as well as potential damages individuals or even the society might suffer, if such a right would be established. Furthermore, relevant aspects of the current legal framework are presented, followed by an analysis of former and ongoing Internet of Things regulation initiatives, asking whether the right to offline alternatives may have already been recognized and part of regulatory balancing processes.


Offline alternatives Internet of things Policy Data protection