Ethics & Values

Ethics in VIRT-EU is understood as values in action, as the ethics of material choices, as the ethics of navigating complex decision spaces.

In the first part of the tool, we invite creators to simply explode all of the many aspects of their product, to get the team on the same page whether they are from development, design or management.

We then introduce a core ethical principle based on “virtue ethics,” where we invite participants to try to see where the values that they are trying to uphold are actually embedded, or in action, in the device itself. The choices of a certain kind of battery over another can demonstrate the value of sustainability, for example.

Over the course of the value connections and material connections, we can begin to see the shape of a map of care ethics. What are the elements of the product that you care deeply about embedding with your values? And which areas do you need to include, but cannot yet find a way to embed with your ethical values? These areas that have less connection to the values demonstrate the theory of capabilities - you may care about the entire world, but you may only be able to do something or have agency over just one slice of it.

These different theories: virtue, care and capabilities - combine to form the VIRT-EU ethical framework. Learn more about VIRT-EU's ethical approach.



A state of being unobserved or disturbed by others. The ability to control access to the self and to data about the self. Giving the users the ability to decide on their own privacy settings. Protecting and ensuring the sanctity of user’s private life and personal information.

Data Protection

Control over access to and use of private data. Making sure that users are not adversely affected by the data that is collected, processed or analysed about them- both as individuals and as groups. Giving them the control to erase or alter their data, should they wish to do so.


The feeling of control over one’s own destiny that entails relationships of respect. Having a say in tracking, surveillance and control through IoT products. Ensuring that no individual or group should be adversely affected or dehumanised as a result of using or not using a product. Reflecting on the implications of connectivity in spaces and contexts users might consider as private.


Paying attention to the physical and mental welfare of the users and developers, designers and testers of the product.


Making sure no person or group are adversely affected by the use or non-use of the product. Including data processed about them.


The capacity of the user to act, make decisions and express herself without being influenced or forced by a technology.


Striving towards achieving clarity throughout the technology development process about the source of materials, hardware and data that goes into the product, including communication of the source of funding for the product.


Encouraging the users to take active part in the design and development of technology development, whenever possible. Engaging in a dialogue with users throughout the lifetime of a product and ensuring that their voices are heard.


Assuming responsibility and explaining why a decision has been taken the way it has been, if or when potential risks are identified or when adverse consequences of a decision take place.


Supporting connectability of the technology to other IoT technologies, even when they are produced by different companies, and they work on different software architectures. Upholding data portability as a value for both technology developers and users so that they can move their data to other connected products, should they wish to do so.

Safety and Security

Paying attention to all the vulnerabilities the product might cause to users and taking all necessary steps to prevent them from happening. Ensuring that whenever new vulnerabilities are discovered, timely steps are taken to mitigate all risks. Risks, including risks to physical well-being of the users, but also their mental well-being.


Assuming duty to take care, being in charge of the decisions taken in a technology development process.

Openness and Shareability

Supporting open hardware, software, source code and data. Also supporting platforms that bring together coders, developers and creators to exchange and share ideas and codes. Accepting the idea that the greater the number of people who work on a codebase, the better and stronger it will be.


Considering and accounting for the environmental impacts of sourcing materials and minerals, global production chains and end-of-life technologies. Emphasizing the materiality of technologies that are often considered as non-material (e.g., software, algorithms, cloud).

Inclusion and Equality

Acknowledging diversity as part of the technology development process and striving towards including variety of opinions, backgrounds and capabilities when building a product. Aiming to increase diversity of the teams that build products to minimise bias and potential discrimination.