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Ethics of Big Data Workshop

Friday, 10 June 2016, 10.00am to 6.00pm
Location: SG2, Alison Richard Building, Cambridge

Purpose of workshop

The workshop will support an interdisciplinary conversation at the University of Cambridge about the ethics of big data research. Its aims are both to raise awareness of ethical issues associated with big data and to contribute to the development of material for the Research Group’s digital reader - a publicly accessible, interactive online resource on the ethics of big data research.


The Ethics of Big Data Research Group will present the conclusions drawn from their work in the 2015-16 academic year, reflecting on the challenges of ethical practice in big data research and drawing on case studies from research using administrative data, social media data, health data and data from development projects in Africa previously explored in the seminar series. In addition, we welcome a range of expert speakers to provide their perspectives on the Ethics of Big Data.


Keynote speaker:

Jake Metcalf, PhD, Data and Society Institute and Founding Partner, Ethical Resolve

Jacob Metcalf, PhD is a Researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute, where he conducted policy and ethics research for the Council for Big Data, Ethics and Society. His research focuses on the changing norms and policies of research ethics in data science and practice. His most recent paper, co-authored with Kate Crawford, "Where are the human subjects in big data? The emerging ethics divide," is in the spring 2016 issue of Big Data & Society. He also runs a consulting firm, Ethical Resolve, dedicated to helping data and tech companies develop ethics review practices. 


Panel discussion: How do we engage people with thinking ethically about big data?



Bendert Zevenbergen, Oxford Internet Institute

Ben Zevenbergen joined the Oxford Internet Institute to pursue a DPhil on the intersection of privacy law, technology, social science, and the Internet. He runs a side project that aims to establish ethics guidelines for Internet research, as well as working in multidisciplinary teams such as the EU funded Network of Excellence in Internet Science. He has worked on legal, political and policy aspects of the information society for several years. Most recently he was a policy advisor to an MEP in the European Parliament, working on Europe’s Digital Agenda. Previously Ben worked as an ICT/IP lawyer and policy consultant in the Netherlands. Ben holds a degree in law, specialising in Information Law.


Madeleine Greenhalgh, Cabinet Office

Madeleine Greenhalgh will present a perspective from government, including the UK Government’s Data Science Ethical Framework.


Panel respondent: Dr Julia Powles, University of Cambridge

Julia Powles is a postdoctoral researcher working at the interface of law and technology. She has expertise in data protection, privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, regulation and business law, and her current research addresses technical and legal mechanisms for the control, transfer and analysis of data. She obtained her PhD from the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge.


For questions about the workshop content or programme, please contact Clare Dyer-Smith ( 

More information about this event…