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.
Recent Output & Updates
Jacob Metcalf and Kate Crawford illustrate how proposed changes to the regulations governing human-subjects research protections do not address certain harms caused by big data research that uses public datasets, and discuss what ethical protections "data subjects" might require. Published in Big Data and Society, Spring 2016.
The Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society publishes a comprehensive white paper consolidating conversations and ideas from two years of meetings and discussions.
Prepared for the NSF BIGDATA PI Meeting, April 20-21, in Washington, DC; this poster summarizes the Council’s outputs, policy recommendations, suggested pedagogical interventions, and strategies for cross-disciplinary networking.
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.
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.
This letter provides feedback to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding proposed changes to the regulation of human subjects research outlined in the Common Rule.
The Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society would like you to help us build a community of researchers and thinkers with a scholarly interest in the social, technical, legal, and ethical issues raised by the “big data” phenomenon. The BDES Network will facilitate information sharing, discussion, and community building among academics, practitioners, researchers, and others who seek to raise important questions, share opportunities, and ask for help navigating complex data ethics issues. The network is being formed in connection with the NSF-supported Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society, but will also have a life of its own. Participants can expect to be invited to participate in grants, collaborations, grants, and opportunities to connect with one another.
As part of its network expansion, the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society is commissioning original case studies.
The Council is seeking researchers, practitioners, and educators to write case studies based on real-world examples that examine complex issues of data ethics. A case study should describe a situation in which an ethical conundrum arose, and how responding to that situation introduced conflicting ethical duties, responsibilities, or principles. Situations used for case studies may involve data collection, publishing, aggregation, or analytics and illustrate topics such as privacy, de/re-identification, accuracy and quality control, cultural representation, oversight and accountability, or social outcomes of research. Examples from industry, government, and academia are welcome.
Completed case studies will become part of a collection of pedagogical resources for instructors covering data ethics in various fields, and will be used to generate discussion through live and/or online discussion forums of part of ongoing work by the Council. The case studies may be distributed via the Council, Data & Society, and the National Online Ethics Center (hosted by the National Academies of Engineering). Authors are also welcome to submit their case studies for publication.