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Apr 13, 2016

Data ethics case studies


The Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society has released three case studies (with more on the way) and has set a deadline of June 1, 2016, for any new submissions to its call for cases.

1) The Ethics of Using Hacked Data: Patreon’s Data Hack and Academic Data Standards by Nathaniel Poor and Roei Davidson: Should researchers utilize hacked datasets that have been released in public forums? This case study discusses the ethical arguments for and against utilizing hacked crowdfunding data for academic research.

2) “It Was A Matter of Life and Death”: A YouTube Engineer’s Decision to Alter Data in the ‘It Gets Better Project’ by Laurie Honda: In this case study, a YouTube engineer contemplates whether to subvert engineering best practices to bypass storage capacity limits on videos created for the It Gets Better Project, which aims to prevent self-harm by LGBTQ youth.

3) No Encore for Encore? Ethical questions for web-based censorship measurement by Arvind Narayanan and Bendert Zevenbergen: This case study examines tricky ethical questions that arise when researchers co-opt Internet-connected devices as vantage points for data collection, without the knowledge or consent of the users of those devices.

Stay tuned for more case studies from the Council, and consider proposing one of your own. For the Council’s purposes, “A robust case study consists of a roughly 1,000-word description of narrative and background describing an actual situation faced by big data scientists or practitioners, along with collateral materials. It should be rich with context and be usable in a variety of instructional situations.” More information, including submission instructions, can be found in the full call for case studies in data ethics.