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Ethics, Law and Policy


The use of Big Data research methods often raises complex ethical issues which intersect with technology, the social sciences, the humanities and the law, and have significant implications for policy and for international legal frameworks. Research in this theme ranges from the theoretical and technical implications of cloud computing, anonymisation, privacy and cyber security, through to the legal and social dimension of data.

Questions of ethics in using data are tied intimately with questions of ownership and access. Who owns the data? Who has the right to use that data? Should data be held by governments and private companies, or by individual citizens? How can the security of data be ensured? How might or should the Data Protection framework be reformed in order to accommodate Big Data activities without unduly undermining the goals of the legislation?

The question of access and ownership moves beyond only access to data, but access to Big Data methods themselves. Does 'Big Data' favour those atop the Big Data pyramid, with the technical, infrastructural and social capability to gather, analyse, speak and act? Or might "bottom-up" innovation and application spark a renewal of democratic citizenship? 

Browse the directory to meet our researchers in this area.