a more global view of data

I recently published a post on the Society and Space site, suggesting that it’s time for researchers to consider and debate in much greater detail the kinds of data that we can use, and how much they can tell us about the world. ‘Big data’ research is the subject of all kinds of claims (it can solve poverty, save the rhino, prevent tooth decay…), and therefore there are potential advantages to labelling our work that way in terms of getting funding and attention. So it’s up to us to be as clear as possible about what we can’t say about the world using the new data sources. Here’s how it began:

The social sciences are engaged in a trans-disciplinary debate on the meaning and use of new forms of digital data. One of the most important repercussions from Dalton and Thatcher’s call (2014) for a critical data studies has been an awareness that researchers need to continually sensitise themselves to the contextualities of data’s production and use (Kitchin 2014, Graham and Shelton 2013, Nissenbaum 2010). This short essay responds to this ongoing debate, laying out the case for such an awareness and asking how we might better operationalise it in data studies. If researchers working with the new data sources – and geographers in particular – can learn to think across contexts in a more inclusive way, it may take us further toward realising big data’s promise as a tool for social scientific research.

You can read the rest here

Digital Ethics – Michel Riguidel, Jacques Bus

DEF plans a debate on Digital Ethics in October of this year as a follow-up of the discussions at DEF 2015. This blog invites comments and critique and suggestions in preparation of that debate

The need to anticipate legislation and usages

Digital technologies have so modified human activity and digital usage evolves so quickly, it is essential to constantly update the rules of digital ethics and review deontology in many areas (trade, health, education …). Following the new opportunities and potentials, it is well possible to use or divert erroneously or act maliciously.

Digital Ethics touches on many hot issues, including respect for privacy and consequences of profiling, ethics of content, information collection and storing, right to be forgotten, cybercrime and terrorism, (mass) surveillance, freedom of expression, IoT and Big Data, robots and drones, digital artificial body implant or augmented reality in neurobiology, intellectual property, virtual currency, precaution, accountability, responsibility and intentionality, global and cultural differences of ethical norms. Continue reading

DEF 2015: The implications of the Code as Law

Ajit Jaokar was a speaker at the Digital Enlightenment forum 2015 (DEF2015). A blog of him focuses on a specific talk from DEF 2015: Legal questions in the digital world by TJ McIntyre – UCD and Digital rights Ireland. The event talks and presentations can be found HERE.

The discussion related to the loss of Utopian ideals on which the Internet has been founded – specifically in the legally murky world of ‘Code as law’ – which encapsulates legal enforcement in the form of Code. “Code as law” also creates a new (often reluctant) law enforcer in the form of ICT companies.  This issue is thus a key part of Internet Governance today. Ajit’s views on this talk can be found at the EIF News.

Are the Courts about to take the lead in advancing privacy law? The England and Wales Court of Appeal ruling on Google v. Vidal-Hall

One of the most important court rulings on privacy in a long time has just been handed down by the England and Wales Court of Appeal:  Google v. Vidal-Hall.

I have seen two articles about it that are very useful reads.  One is “The European Privacy Judicial Decision of a Decade: Google v. Vidal-Hall” by Omer Tene, on which I comment below, and another is by Alexander Hanff, “UK Court of Appeal issues game changing judgment in Google Safari case” in IT Security, 27 Mar 2015.

The ruling has worldwide ramifications for all the reasons outlined by Omer Tene.

In particular, the judgment confirms the position I took as Privacy Commissioner at the turn of the millennium and have held ever since on the wide interpretation of what constitutes personal information and on what constitutes harm. Continue reading