Trust in farm data sharing: reflections on the EU code of conduct for agricultural data sharing

Simone van der Burg*, Leanne Wiseman, Jovana Krkeljas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Digital farming technologies promise to help farmers make well-informed decisions that improve the quality and quantity of their production, with less labour and less impact on the environment. This future, however, can only become a reality if farmers are willing to share their data with agribusinesses that develop digital technologies. To foster trust in data sharing, in Europe the EU Code of Conduct for agricultural data sharing by contractual agreement was launched in 2018 which encourages transparency about data use. This article looks at the EU Code through the lens of literature on trust and contract agreements. We agree with the makers of the EU Code that a contract can make an important contribution to trust relationships as it is needed to mitigate the detrimental effects of power relationships between experts and non-experts. Building on Onora O’Neills perspective to trust, however, we argued that a contract can only be successful in fostering trust when (a) information is comprehended by the more vulnerable party in this relationship who has to sign the contract, (b) the more powerful partner takes responsibility to provide that information, and (c) information is tailored to the information needs of the party signing the contract, even when data are re-used over a longer period. In addition, we think that differences between trust relationships and relationships of accountability, give reason to add to informed consent other more substantive ethical components in a more encompassing code of conduct.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2020


  • Digital farming
  • Ethics
  • EU code of conduct
  • GDPR
  • Informed consent
  • Trust

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