General ethical measures to be implemented
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To meet this ethical requirement, two perspectives must be kept in mind. On the one hand, the need to consider the impact of data processing in terms of data protection as such. On the other hand, the impact that such processing may have on the environment, society, or human relations. With regard to the latter, it is essential to consider the recommendations made by the High-Level Expert Group on AI. Although they were developed in the context of AI, they are perfectly applicable to the use of geospatial data.[1] The recommendations of the Group were the following:

  • Devices and systems using geospatial data promise to help tackle some of our most pressing societal concerns, but this must be achieved in the most environmentally friendly way possible. The system’s development, deployment and use processes, as well as its entire supply chain, should be assessed in this regard. This includes measures such as a critical examination of its resource use and energy consumption, opting for less environmentally harmful choices where available. Measures securing the environmental friendliness of devices and systems’ entire supply chain have been implemented.
  • Ubiquitous exposure to location and tracing devices and systems in all areas of our lives – be it education, work, care or entertainment – may alter our conception of social agency, or impact our social relationships and attachment. While these devices and systems can be used to enhance social skills, they can equally contribute to their deterioration. This could also affect people’s physical and mental wellbeing. The effects of these systems must therefore be carefully monitored and considered.
  • Beyond assessing the impact of a device or system’s development, deployment and use on individuals, this impact should also be assessed from a societal perspective, taking into account its effect on institutions, democracy and society at large. Their implementation should always be given careful consideration, particularly in situations relating to restrictions of individual rights and freedoms.
Checklist: General ethical measures to be implemented

 The device does not include tools that allow for a use of the data in a way that is hardly compatible with the preservation of relevant privacy spaces.

 The tool is mindful of principles of environmental sustainability, both regarding the system itself and the supply chain to which it connects (when relevant)

 The default configuration of the device does not allow disproportionate uses of data for surveillance purposes.

 Controllers have made sure that the tool takes the welfare of all stakeholders into account and general reduction of their well-being is not at all foreseeable.

 The device is not designed for purposes that are hardly compatible with the EU’s own ethical principles.




1High-Level Expert Group on AI, Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (84 and ff.), at:


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