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We are pleased to present the Moral-IT and Legal-IT decks.

These physical cards are a responsible research and innovation tool created to enable structured reflection on legal, ethical, technical and social implications of new information technologies.

They are the latest development in our research at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute into the role of physical card-based tools in translating law and ethical principles into more accessible forms for design teams. Inspired by legislative changes, such as the new General Data Protection Regulation, we recognise the need to build legal compliance into technologies by design and default. High profile scandals of data misuse have increased calls for technologies to be developed in more ethically sound ways too. We feel that practical tools for actually doing this and bringing wider values into IT design are lacking. These cards seek to address this gap, by supporting engagement with legal and ethical concepts through a process of translation into a more accessible form.

Our Moral-IT deck poses a wide range of critical ethical questions designers need to ask of their new technology. These are thematically clustered around four themes (privacy, ethics, law and security) and below are some examples.

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Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 17.54.50Our Legal-IT deck translates five complex European legal frameworks that aim to ensure data protection and cybersecurity for data driven technologies. We present the relevant rights, principles, definitions and responsibilities within the: EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016; EU Draft e-Privacy Regulation 2017; EU Network and Information Security Directive 2016; Cybercrime Convention 2001; and Attacks Against Information Systems Directive 2013.

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The beauty of cards is they can be used in a wide variety of ways. One approach is as part of our streamlined impact assessment process to unpack risks, likelihood of occurrence, safeguards and challenges of implementation. This proves particularly useful for a team at the early stages of the design of a new application or technology. A board guiding you through this process is downloadable below. They can also be sorted by relevance, clustered thematically and ranked in terms of importance by designers. We have been testing these in a variety of contexts, most recently with research teams as part of the Horizon Services Campaign.

The cards are publicly available as downloadable PDFs which you can print off or send to a professional printer. We would really like to build up dialogue on who you are, how you are using the cards, why and any feedback you have on the tool/process. Please send these on to

To widen access to these decks and associated tools (e.g. process board) are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-SA). These decks have been designed by Dr Lachlan Urquhart and Dr Peter Craigon at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute. The photos used in the Moral-IT deck are all royalty and attribution free, sourced on Pixabay. Some of the graphics used in the Legal-IT deck are purchased via a Noun Project subscription.

Downloadable Content (all subject to the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license below)

Click for Moral-IT Deck. ( + Ace Cards)

Click for Legal-IT Deck.

Click for Prototype ‘process board’ for the impact assessment.

Project Report.

This project recently finished and it has given us insights into the design process, and the role cards can play in structuring reflection on ethical issues. There were a range of activities associated with this work carried out by myself and Peter, listed below.

  • Moral-IT cards Live on this site (2018)
  • Journal Paper “The Moral-IT Deck: an Ethics by Design Tool” published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation
  • Conference paper presented on Cardmapper at CHI 2019, which links closely to the Moral-IT work, and involves members of the same team. (April 2019)
  • Conference Paper presented at TILTING Perspective 2019‘Ethical by Design?  Responsible Research and Innovation using the Moral-IT Deck of Cards’ in the Netherlands. (May 2019)
  • Part of Keynote presentation on ‘Privacy, Security, Ethics & the Internet of Food’IoT For Food Conference, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. (April, 2018)
  • Presentation of project to Design Informatics at University of Edinburgh (Oct, 2019)
  • Presentation of project at Staff Research Talk in School of Law in University of Edinburgh (Oct, 2019)
  • Presentation of Project at Centre for Data Culture and Society at University of Edinburgh (Oct, 2020)
  • Cards on display ORGCon 2019 (Oct, 2019)
  • Cards presented at Horizon Review (July, 2019), at BBC TVX (2019), part of the Mixed Reality Lab 20th Anniversary Celebration Exhibition at CHI 2019 in Glasgow.
  • More than 50 + physical sets of cards distributed across the UK and internationally e.g. with the Internet Society
  • Discussed during workshops run at Asia Ritsumeikan Pacific University Tokyo, as part of an ESRC Emotional AI project (July 2019) and in London at the Digital Catapult (Sept 2019).
  • Cards used in a range of teaching activities:
    • for 3 years as part of University of Edinburgh LL.M courses with c120 total students (2018-present);
    • during a Horizon CDT Workshop on RRI with 20 students (Oct 2019 and Jan 2021);
    • during an online Summer School on Cobots with the Nottingham Smart Beacon (summer 2020).
  • Presented to BBC R&D and Unilever at Mixed Reality Lab events.
  • Integrated with Cardographer Platform and been a key part of 3 follow on bids for Cardographer – including one funded under current Nottingham Impact Fund project that ran from Oct 2019 to March 2020 (c£10k).
  • Project led to a Research Fellow post for Peter within the UoN Food Beacon where he has been developing Research Ethics Cards that emerge from the Moral-IT cards work.
  • Cards have also been a direct influence on other decks of cards work within the University of Nottingham and adopted by researchers there in project work.
  • Cards were used as part of a Horizon workshop on technology and domestic violence at University of Nottingham (Spring 2020).
  • Testimony from participants.
  • “I think it’s fascinating these cards because I’ve been doing software forever and we generally get these things applied retrospectively… It can be you were sitting around with the development team and you’re like, okay, we’re going to have a session this afternoon, we’re going to bring these cards in and before you’d even start on the system you’re going over these things and you’re building in from the get go. I can just see how great it is.” – External workshop participant.

Creative Commons Licence
Moral-IT and Legal-IT Decks by Dr Lachlan Urquhart & Dr Peter Craigon, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. )

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