In collaboration with the National Science Foundation, the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society was started in 2014 to provide critical social and cultural perspectives on big data initiatives. The Council brings together researchers from diverse disciplines — from anthropology and philosophy to economics and law — to address issues such as security, privacy, equality, and access in order to help guard against the repetition of known mistakes and inadequate preparation. Through public commentary, events, white papers, and direct engagement with data analytics projects, the Council will develop frameworks to help researchers, practitioners, and the public understand the social, ethical, legal, and policy issues that underpin the big data phenomenon.
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. Authors: Arvind Narayanan and Bendert Zevenbergen