Why Can't We Be Friends? A Proposal for Universal Ethical Standards in Human Subject Research

Colorado Technology Law Journal, Vol 14.2 (2016)

28 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2022

See all articles by Calli Schroeder

Calli Schroeder

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Date Written: May 3, 2016

Abstract

The Facebook emotional contagion experiment brought to light the inherent conflict and troubling loopholes that stem from federal agencies and private companies adhering to different ethical standards regarding human subject research. Specifically, it demonstrated that collaborations between federally-funded agencies and private companies can skirt the ethical requirements and oversight standards set forth by the Belmont Report and adopted by federal agencies.

It is no longer feasible to allow private companies to set their own ethical standards regarding human subject research. Advancements in technology and the pervasiveness of data sharing have allowed human subject research to expand far beyond its previous limitations. As long as there are ethical standards that apply only to select human subject research, there will be individuals and organizations that seek to exploit the loopholes created by this disparity. The public and academic outcry in the aftermath of the Facebook emotional contagion experiment demonstrates a need for imposing core ethical and oversight standards for all human subject research, which would apply regardless of the individual or company performing the research. While the implementation of standards for human subject research may be adjusted for the specific needs of a business or organization, certain standards should be universal: there must be some level of outside oversight and accountability; there must be a specific and legitimate stated purpose of the experiment; and there must be as much informed consent as possible.

Keywords: Human Subject Research, IRB, Ethical Standards

Suggested Citation

Schroeder, Calli, Why Can't We Be Friends? A Proposal for Universal Ethical Standards in Human Subject Research (May 3, 2016). Colorado Technology Law Journal, Vol 14.2 (2016), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4204020

Calli Schroeder (Contact Author)

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) ( email )

1718 Connecticut Avenue
NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009
United States

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