On defense of “ethification” of law: How ethics may improve compliance with the EU digital laws

Mesarcik, M., Podrouzek, J., Gavornik, A.

In recent years, academics and professionals witness the rise of the “ethification” of law, specifically in the area of ICT law. Ethification shall be understood as a proliferation of moral principles and moral values in the legal discourse within the areas of research, innovation governance, or directly enforceable rules in the industry. Although the ethical considerations may seem distant from mere regulatory compliance, the opposite is true. The article focuses on the positive side of the “ethification” of digital laws through the lens of legal requirements for impact assessments pursuant to General Data Protection Regulation and conformity assessments in the proposal for the Artificial Intelligence Act. Authors argue that ethical considerations are often absent in the context of using new technologies including artificial intelligence, yet they may provide additional value for organizations and society as a whole. Additionally, carrying out ethics-based assessments is already in line with existing regulatory requirements in the fields of data protection law and proposed EU AI regulation. These arguments are reflected in the context of facial recognition technology, where both data protection impact assessment under the EU General Data Protection Regulation and conformity assessment under the proposal of the EU Artificial Intelligence Act will be mandatory. Facial recognition technology is analyzed through the ethics-based assessment involving stakeholder analysis, data flows map, and identification of risks and respective countermeasures to show additional insights that ethics provides beyond regulatory requirements.

Cite: Mesarcik, M., Podrouzek, J., Gavornik, A. On Defense of “Ethification” of Law: How Ethics May Improve Compliance with the EU Digital Laws. Computer Law & Security Review (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.clsr.2023.105852

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Matúš Mesarčík
Ethics and Law Specialist
Juraj Podroužek
Lead and Researcher
Adrián Gavorník
Research Intern