Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

How to build trust in the Digital World?


The underlying logic and functioning of the technologies that fill our life are not understood by most of us; still, we use them, and in doing this we invest "trust". However, when it deals with areas such as health, personal data, or money transfers, it is clear how the creation of trust in users is still a work in progress: the proposal of Directive on network and information security reports that "the 2012 Eurobarometer on Cybersecurity found that 38% of EU internet users are concerned about the safety of online payments and have changed their behaviour because of concerns with security issues: 18% are less likely to buy goods online and 15% are less likely to use online banking"

The creation of a sufficient level of trust remains one of the most important preconditions to guarantee a wide-spread, thriving and sustainable digital economy: the cost for not achieving the full potential of the single market because of mistrust by users has been estimated around EUR 500 billion, or EUR 1000 per citizen.

But how to encourage and build sufficient trust in internet users?
Which are in your opinion the most important factors contributing to the creation of trust?

Certainly, trust shall be achieved at both the technological and the policy level: technology should guarantee sufficient security and privacy-by-design, while the policy level shall properly combine the protection of individual needs, such as freedom, privacy and data protection, and of societal values such as solidarity and security. Also, a reflection on liability or on the procedures and actual feasibility of cybercrimes prosecution is needed in order to devise adequate policy approaches.

As a starter, here the contribution on this topic of the Director of the Secure and Sustainable Society Directorate at DG CONNECT:

34 users have voted.


David Osimo's picture

Mistrust sometimes is well founded. For instance: it is true that we lack any real control over our data, when we deal with service providers. The UK MIDATA initiative is a good example of trying to make clarity on how consumers can control personal data held by third parties. See:
41 users have voted.
Andrew Power's picture

Technology can also enable trust between strangers. Products like Swaptree and eBay which facilitate online trading only work in an environment of trust. Collaboration and trust are built into these systems. They mimic the behaviour that happens face-to-face but on a massive scale. Social networks and real-time technologies replicate a system of bartering, trading and swapping. This happens in our neighbourhood, our schools, our workplaces, and on our Facebook network. Botsman and Rogers call this collaborative consumption. We are moving from passive consumers, to creators, to active collaborators. This is a behaviour we should be comfortable with. Human beings are social by nature; sociologists and psychologists have studied the implications of this for years. As we are increasingly interconnected through social networks this is providing us with opportunities to express this social dimension and to be active in many different communities. The concept of community has grown; social networking has been both supporting and reinforcing this. Younger users are developing networks of trust and confidence in virtual spaces which are informing their behaviour in their communities and informing their sense of the polis.

42 users have voted.
Aljosa Pasic's picture

The link between trust and trustworthiness is often not well understood. While trust is bilateral and always placed in a context, trustworthiness is a property, something that can be determined by e.g. assurance. Today we have many research results that improved stats of the art in security assurance, representation and discovery of security properties, monitoring of machine readible policies etc. However, these research results are still not on the market and the consumer trust is still widely based on the other criteria such as direct or indirect experience, reputations, recomendations etc

30 users have voted.
Margot Bezzi's picture

npasical, thanks for this distinction. But which are the real implication of this term confusion? 

It means for example that when speaking about how to foster, e.g., e-commerce or a number of service, in fact it could be sufficient working on the level of trustworthiness, instead of focussing on a concept of trust that is built elsewhere (experience, reputation) and depend on a number of variables in part out of our control?
29 users have voted.
Margot Bezzi's picture

Thanks for your contribution. What you say is particularly interesting when compared to the statement here below, on the difference between trust and trustworthiness. 

While trustworthiness remains an important condition to comply with, perhaps able to automatically generate trust, we also see how cultural (and thus relative) are the variable influencing the generation of that perhaps with the new generation the problem of trust will/might be significantly reshaped.



31 users have voted.
Antonio Ramos's picture

I think that the proposed EU Directive about security in information systems and networks is a good start point. I mean, it goes for a minimum level of security in all "market operators" (of course, incluid critical infrastructures), it obligues to incident notification and sharing of information between operators and member States and, of course, it includes consequences for those that do pose a risk for the rest of the stakeholders by lowering the level of security.
So, minimum level, sharing information and consequences: a good cocktail for the beginning.

32 users have voted.