Potential and impacts of Cloud Computing Services and Social Network Sites

  • Project team:

    Weber, Arnd (Project leader at ITAS); Leonhard Hennen

  • Funding:

    STOA (The Science Technology Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners: Fraunhofer ISI, Danish Board of Technology, the Austrian Institute of Technology Assessment
  • Research group:

    Innovation processes and impacts of technology

Project description

The project will incorporate and assess the key findings and conclusions of the relevant research conducted in the field of Cloud Computing services and Social Network Websites. Based on the results of this research, options will be developed that are relevant for actions of European decision-makers. The project team is made up by colleagues from the Danish Board of Technology, the Austrian Institute of Technology Assessment, ITAS and Fraunhofer ISI, the latter as the leading partner.

Cloud Computing

The project will analyse the technological, economic and legal foundations of cloud computing. In order to shape the understanding of cloud computing it will also be necessary to research and analyse the evolution of cloud computing technologies and concepts, since the idea behind it has a rather long tradition that can be traced back to the 1960s. Based on the analysis of technical features and requirements the project aims at identifying driving factors for the diffusion of Cloud computing services. Different layers of services will be distinguished, making the difference between basic infrastructure layers (such as google docs for instance) and value added services that can be added on top of it (such as document management for business for instance).

The main task of the project will be to analyse possible economic and social impacts of cloud computing. Impacts on private businesses, public authorities, the science and innovation system and on private households will be considered. Impacts on the IT industry will be taken into account as well. The project will in particular deal with questions related to privacy and security threats including their technical and legal aspects.

Social Network Sites

Given the specific context and issues of Social Network Sites, this topic will be treated in an extra module. As a first step the module will review the different types of Social Network Sites focusing on traditional global open social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, XING and the VZ group on the other hand. The focus will be on identifying the demands, motivations and risks for resp. of the intensive use of Social Network Sites especially by younger people. Building upon this review of cultural and social factors the module will analyse legal implications arising from that situation. In further steps technological and economic factors like the different types of business models (membership, data exploitation, in-shop-concepts, etc.) or alternative technological approaches like Diaspora will be researched as well as questions related to security, privacy, and the protection of intellectual property/copyright in SNS. As an emerging new segment of social network website use the project will also address restricted business oriented social networks like Yammer, Communote and other services categorized as enterprise software. The underlying functions like micro-blogging, networking and collaboration are essential parts of the Enterprise 2.0 (E2) concept, which evolved in the mid of the 2000s. The basic idea of E2 was to exploit the benefits of social software for improving communication and collaboration within enterprises.


Journal Articles
Weber, A.; Jaglo, M.; Leimbach, T.; Hallinan, D.; Bachlechner, D.; Nielsen, R. O.; Nentwich, M.; Strauß, S.; Lynn, T.; Hunt, G.
Cloud computing and social network sites: US leads, Europe loses
2014. Technikfolgenabschätzung - Theorie und Praxis, 23 (2), 71–75 
Leimbach, T.; Hallinan, D.; Bachlechner, D.; Weber, A.; Jaglo, M.; Hennen, L.; Nielsen, R.; Nentwich, M.; Strauß, S.; Lynn, T.; Hunt, G.
Potential and Impacts of Cloud Computing Services and Social Network Websites - Study - IP/A/STOA/FWC/2008-096/Lot4/C1/SC8
2014. European Union (EU). doi:10.2861/48873
Leimbach, T.; Hallinan, D.; Bachlechner, D.; Weber, A.; Jaglo, M.; Hennen, L.; Nielsen, R.; Nentwich, M.; Strauß, S.; Lynn, T.; Hunt, G.
Potential and impacts of cloud computing services and social network sites - Options - Brief
2014. European Union (EU) 
Nielsen, R.; Bachlechner, D.; Lynn, T.; Hunt, G.; Jaglo, M.; Weber, A.
Potentials of cloud computing
2013. STOA Workshop ’Financing and assessing large scale infrastructures’, Bruxelles, B, October 2, 2013 


Dr. Arnd Weber
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe