Transparency can appear having two contradictory meanings. In ethics, it means to have the inner workings of a process visible so that anyone using it can understand the steps involved and their implications. In computer science and IT studies, it often refers to a condition of invisibility, namely that a system can be used without question or need to think about the processes within. As transparency is integrally linked to trust and accountability, an IT system should help users understand how it is designed and how it works by making its inner logics and functions visible.

  • Find technological and social mechanism to share their inner-workings of the CIS with users and those being served by its use.
  • Helping users understand the inner logics and functions of the CIS, including the classification systems, taxonomy, access controls, etc.
  • Make users and how users interact with an IT system visible


Perng, S.Y. and Büscher, M., (2015). Uncertainty and transparency: augmenting modelling and prediction for crisis response. The 12th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) [Link
Turilli, M., and Floridi, L. (2009). The ethics of information transparency. Ethics and Information Technology, 11(2): 105–112. [DOI] [Link]
Weitzner, D. J., Abelson, H., Berners-Lee, T., Hanson, C., Hendler, J., Kagal, L., Waterman, K.K. (2006). Transparent accountable data mining: New strategies for privacy protection. MIT-CSAIL Technical Report. Cambridge, MA: MIT.  [Link]

Related Guidance

Transparency of Systems

Transparency of Data Processing

Ethical and Privacy Impact Assessment

Data Standards