After a very successful evaluation by the German national science organization DFG, funding was granted for the second phase of the Doctoral School (in DFG terms: Research Training Group RTG) #2050 entitled “Privacy and Trust for Mobile Users”. In April, 2020, phase two was successfully launched and new research groups were integrated. About a dozen PhDs and a Postdoc conduct interdisciplinary research, interweaving computer science with sociology, law, economy (information systems), and psychology. They are seconded by numerous associated PhD researchers and postdocs as well as international experts. Of the supervising thirteen PIs, nine come from TU Darmstadt and two each from Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Kassel.
On the one hand, the general research agenda was sustained since protecting privacy and assessing trustworthiness remain core challenges of digitization, in particular since mobile users face an ever more ubiquitous presence of computerized technology. On the other hand, the research agenda was also adapted in view of pressing issues. For instance, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation GDPR, which went into effect in 2018, strengthens the privacy protection rights of EU citizens, but also reveals serious obstacles for users who try to exercise their rights. E.g., the so-called “informed consent” requires considerable background knowledge and may quickly overwhelm users, both w.r.t. time budge and expertise. Therefore, the RTG is now dealing, among others, with the question of how trustworthy intelligent “intermediaries” of various kinds can act as proxies that take over time-consuming or demanding tasks of privacy protection. The example shows that the RTG has embarked on an exciting next research journey that will last until the end of 2024.