Beyond the Common Rule: Ethical Structures for Data Research in Non-Academic Settings
Colorado Technology Law Journal Vol 13
35 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2015
Date Written: May 27, 2015
As scientific knowledge advances, new data uses continuously emerge in a wide variety of contexts, from combating fraud in the payment card industry, to reducing the time commuters spend on the road, detecting harmful drug interactions, improving marketing mechanisms, personalizing the delivery of education in K–12 schools, encouraging exercise and weight loss, and much more.
At corporations, not-for-profits, and academic institutions, researchers are analyzing data and testing theories that often rely on data about individuals. Many of these new uses of personal information are natural extensions of current practices, well within the expectations of individuals and the boundaries of traditional Fair Information Practice Principles. In other cases, data use may exceed expectations, but organizations can provide individuals with additional notice and choice. However, in some cases enhanced notice and choice is not feasible, despite the considerable benefit to consumers if personal information were to be used in an innovative way. This article addresses the processes required to authorize noncontextual data uses at corporations or not-for-profit organizations in the absence of additional notice and choice. Although many of these challenges are also relevant to academic researchers, their work will often be guided by the oversight of Internal Review Boards (which are required for many — but not all — new research uses of personal information).
Keywords: big data, ethics, privacy, Common Rule, research
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