The ethics of big data as a public good

which public - whose good

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

International development and humanitarian
organizations are increasingly calling for digital
data to be treated as a public good because of its
value in supplementing scarce national statistics and
informing interventions, including in emergencies. In
response to this claim, a ‘responsible data’ movement
has evolved to discuss guidelines and frameworks
that will establish ethical principles for data sharing.
However, this movement is not gaining traction with
those who hold the highest-value data, particularly
mobile network operators who are proving reluctant
to make data collected in low- and middle-income
countries accessible through intermediaries. This
paper evaluates how the argument for ‘data as a
public good’ fits with the corporate reality of big
data, exploring existing models for data sharing. I
draw on the idea of corporate data as an ecosystem
involving often conflicting rights, duties and claims,
in comparison to the utilitarian claim that data’s
humanitarian value makes it imperative to share
them. I assess the power dynamics implied by the
idea of data as a public good, and how differing
incentives lead actors to adopt particular ethical
positions with regard to the use of data.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘The ethical
impact of data science’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A
Volume374
Issue number2083
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Fingerprint

moral philosophy
data network
statistics
science
Values

Keywords

  • big data
  • ethics
  • Development
  • Mobile

Cite this

@article{55bb408de4764886b2d2537b9fe64ac6,
title = "The ethics of big data as a public good: which public - whose good",
abstract = "International development and humanitarianorganizations are increasingly calling for digitaldata to be treated as a public good because of itsvalue in supplementing scarce national statistics andinforming interventions, including in emergencies. Inresponse to this claim, a ‘responsible data’ movementhas evolved to discuss guidelines and frameworksthat will establish ethical principles for data sharing.However, this movement is not gaining traction withthose who hold the highest-value data, particularlymobile network operators who are proving reluctantto make data collected in low- and middle-incomecountries accessible through intermediaries. Thispaper evaluates how the argument for ‘data as apublic good’ fits with the corporate reality of bigdata, exploring existing models for data sharing. Idraw on the idea of corporate data as an ecosysteminvolving often conflicting rights, duties and claims,in comparison to the utilitarian claim that data’shumanitarian value makes it imperative to sharethem. I assess the power dynamics implied by theidea of data as a public good, and how differingincentives lead actors to adopt particular ethicalpositions with regard to the use of data.This article is part of the themed issue ‘The ethicalimpact of data science’.",
keywords = "big data, ethics, Development, Mobile",
author = "Linnet Taylor",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1098/rsta.2016.0126",
language = "English",
volume = "374",
journal = "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A",
number = "2083",

}

The ethics of big data as a public good : which public - whose good. / Taylor, Linnet.

In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A, Vol. 374, No. 2083, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The ethics of big data as a public good

T2 - which public - whose good

AU - Taylor, Linnet

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - International development and humanitarianorganizations are increasingly calling for digitaldata to be treated as a public good because of itsvalue in supplementing scarce national statistics andinforming interventions, including in emergencies. Inresponse to this claim, a ‘responsible data’ movementhas evolved to discuss guidelines and frameworksthat will establish ethical principles for data sharing.However, this movement is not gaining traction withthose who hold the highest-value data, particularlymobile network operators who are proving reluctantto make data collected in low- and middle-incomecountries accessible through intermediaries. Thispaper evaluates how the argument for ‘data as apublic good’ fits with the corporate reality of bigdata, exploring existing models for data sharing. Idraw on the idea of corporate data as an ecosysteminvolving often conflicting rights, duties and claims,in comparison to the utilitarian claim that data’shumanitarian value makes it imperative to sharethem. I assess the power dynamics implied by theidea of data as a public good, and how differingincentives lead actors to adopt particular ethicalpositions with regard to the use of data.This article is part of the themed issue ‘The ethicalimpact of data science’.

AB - International development and humanitarianorganizations are increasingly calling for digitaldata to be treated as a public good because of itsvalue in supplementing scarce national statistics andinforming interventions, including in emergencies. Inresponse to this claim, a ‘responsible data’ movementhas evolved to discuss guidelines and frameworksthat will establish ethical principles for data sharing.However, this movement is not gaining traction withthose who hold the highest-value data, particularlymobile network operators who are proving reluctantto make data collected in low- and middle-incomecountries accessible through intermediaries. Thispaper evaluates how the argument for ‘data as apublic good’ fits with the corporate reality of bigdata, exploring existing models for data sharing. Idraw on the idea of corporate data as an ecosysteminvolving often conflicting rights, duties and claims,in comparison to the utilitarian claim that data’shumanitarian value makes it imperative to sharethem. I assess the power dynamics implied by theidea of data as a public good, and how differingincentives lead actors to adopt particular ethicalpositions with regard to the use of data.This article is part of the themed issue ‘The ethicalimpact of data science’.

KW - big data

KW - ethics

KW - Development

KW - Mobile

U2 - 10.1098/rsta.2016.0126

DO - 10.1098/rsta.2016.0126

M3 - Article

VL - 374

JO - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A

JF - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A

IS - 2083

ER -