Current Project

The Privacy Icons Project (PIP) at the Weizenbaum Institute

The Privacy Icons Project (PIP) is an initiative of Research Group 4 (Data as a Means of Payment) at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin. The Research Group investigates, among other things, cognitive and emotional-motivational dynamic processes underlying the often-comprehensive disclosure of personal data by users of digital services and the resulting individual and societal consequences of this behaviour. The research includes looking into risks associated with the disclosure of personal data to be taken into account while attempting to visualise data processing aspects in order to increase the motivation, attention and awareness of users and consider the limited cognitive resources.

The mission of the project is to develop a tool for improving the decision-making process of users in consent situations by conveying via icons relevant information about the data processing practices and the risks they entail. This tool should be realised in the form of a set of icons presented to users before consent decisions are being made. These privacy icons are to be implemented in order to reinforce consent as a legal instrument that adequately fulfils its intended function by rendering individual decisions more informed in terms of data protection law.

During the first phase of the project, the aim is to define the essential features of a visualisation system to be later developed and tested during the second and third phases of the project. This includes defining a risk-based approach tailored around the following question: What type of information could and should be subject to visualisation via icons in the first place? The main source for types of information is the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The data processing aspects and their inherent risks will be arranged in a catalogue, from which the visual information of the privacy icons is to be selected. Subsequently, the icons will be developed and tested during later phases of the project.


Zohar Efroni:
Marie Schirmbeck:

Most relevant publications: