Corporate Duties to the Public


Book by Barnali Choudhury and Martin Petrin: “In a world where the grocery store may be more powerful than the government and corporations are the governors rather than the governed, the notion of corporations being only private actors is slowly evaporating. Gone is the view that corporations can focus exclusively on maximizing shareholder wealth. Instead, the idea that corporations owe duties to the public is capturing the attention of not only citizens and legislators, but corporations themselves. This book explores the deepening connections between corporations and the public. It explores timely – and often controversial – public issues with which corporations must grapple including the corporate purpose, civil and criminal liability, taxation, human rights, the environment and corruption. Offering readers an encompassing, balanced, and systematic understanding of the most pertinent duties corporations should bear, how they work, whether they are justified, and how they should be designed in the future, this book clarifies corporations’ roles vis-à-vis the public….(More)”.

How Can We Use Administrative Data to Prevent Homelessness among Youth Leaving Care?


Article by Naomi Nichols: “In 2017, I was part of a team of people at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and A Way Home Canada who wrote a policy brief titled, Child Welfare and Youth Homelessness in Canada: A proposal for action. Drawing on the results of the first pan-Canadian survey on youth homelessness, Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Surveythe brief focused on the disproportionate number of young people who had been involved with child protection services and then later became homeless. Indeed, 57.8% of homeless youth surveyed reported some type of involvement with child protection services over their lifetime. By comparison, in the general population, only 0.3% of young people receive child welfare service. This means, youth experiencing homelessness are far more likely to report interactions with the child welfare system than young people in the general population. 

Where research reveals systematic patterns of exclusion and neglect – that is, where findings reveal that one group is experiencing disproportionately negative outcomes (relative to the general population) in a particular public sector context – this suggests the need for changes in public policy, programming and practice. Since producing this brief, I have been working with an incredibly talented and passionate McGill undergraduate student (who also happens to be the Vice President of Youth in Care Canada), Arisha Khan. Together, we have been exploring just uses of data to better serve the interests of those young people who depend on the state for their access to basic services (e.g., housing, healthcare and food) as well as their self-efficacy and status as citizens. 

One component of this work revolved around a grant application that has just been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Data Justice: Fostering equitable data-led strategies to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness). Another aspect of our work revolved around a policy brief, which we co-wrote and published with the Montreal data-for-good organization, Powered by Data. The brief outlines how a rights-based and custodial approach to administrative data could a) effectively support young people in and leaving care to participate more actively in their transition planning and engage in institutional self-advocacy; and b) enable systemic oversight of intervention implementation and outcomes for young people in and leaving the provincial care system. We produced this brief with the hope that it would be useful to government decision-makers, service providers, researchers, and advocates interested in understanding how institutional data could be used to improve outcomes for youth in and leaving care. In particular, we wanted to explore whether a different orientation to data collection and use in child protection systems could prevent young people from graduating from provincial child welfare systems into homelessness. In addition to this practical concern, we also undertook to think through the ethical and human rights implications of more recent moves towards data-driven service delivery in Canada, focusing on how we might make this move with the best interests of young people in mind. 

As data collection, management and use practices have become more popularresearch is beginning to illuminate how these new monitoring, evaluative and predictive technologies are changing governance processes within and across the public sector, as well as in civil society. ….(More)”.

Stop Surveillance Humanitarianism


Mark Latonero at The New York Times: “A standoff between the United Nations World Food Program and Houthi rebels in control of the capital region is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Alarmed by reports that food is being diverted to support the rebels, the aid program is demanding that Houthi officials allow them to deploy biometric technologies like iris scans and digital fingerprints to monitor suspected fraud during food distribution.

The Houthis have reportedly blocked food delivery, painting the biometric effort as an intelligence operation, and have demanded access to the personal data on beneficiaries of the aid. The impasse led the aid organization to the decision last month to suspend food aid to parts of the starving population — once thought of as a last resort — unless the Houthis allow biometrics.

With program officials saying their staff is prevented from doing its essential jobs, turning to a technological solution is tempting. But biometrics deployed in crises can lead to a form of surveillance humanitarianism that can exacerbate risks to privacy and security.

By surveillance humanitarianism, I mean the enormous data collection systems deployed by aid organizations that inadvertently increase the vulnerability of people in urgent need….(More)”.

How can Indigenous Data Sovereignty (IDS) be promoted and mainstreamed within open data movements?


OD Mekong Blog: “Considering Indigenous rights in the open data and technology space is a relatively new concept. Called “Indigenous Data Sovereignty” (IDS), it is defined as “the right of Indigenous peoples to govern the collection, ownership, and application of data about Indigenous communities, peoples, lands, and resources”, regardless of where the data is held or by whom. By default, this broad and all-encompassing framework bucks fundamental concepts of open data, and asks traditional open data practitioners to critically consider how open data can be used as a tool of transparency that also upholds equal rights for all…

Four main areas of concern and relevant barriers identified by participants were:

Self-determination to identify their membership

  • National governments in many states, particularly across Asia and South America, still do not allow for self-determination under the law. Even when legislation offers some recognition these are scarcely enforced, and mainstream discourse demonises Indigenous self-determination.
  • However, because Indigenous and ethnic minorities frequently face hardships and persecution on a daily basis, there were concerns about the applicability of data sovereignty at the local levels.

Intellectual Property Protocols

  • It has become the norm in the everyday lives of people for big tech companies to extract data in excessive amounts. How do disenfranchised communities combat this?
  • Indigenous data is often misappropriated to the detriment of Indigenous peoples.
  • Intellectual property concepts, such as copyright, are not an ideal approach for protecting Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights because they are rooted in commercialistic ideals that are difficult to apply to Indigenous contexts. This is especially so because many groups do not practice commercialization in the globalized context. Also, as a concept based on exclusivity (i.e., when licenses expire knowledge gets transferred over as public goods), it doesn’t take into account the collectivist ideals of Indigenous peoples.

Data Governance

  • Ultimately, data protection is about protecting lives. Having the ability to use data to direct decisions on Indigenous development places greater control in the hands of Indigenous peoples.
  • National governments are barriers due to conflicts in sovereignty interests. Nation-state legal systems are often contradictory to customary laws, and thus don’t often reflect rights-based approaches.

Consent — Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)

  • FPIC, referring to a set of principles that define the process and mechanisms that apply specifically to Indigenous peoples in relation to the exercise of their collective rights, is a well-known phrase. They are intended to ensure that Indigenous peoples are treated as sovereign peoples with their own decision-making power, customary governance systems, and collective decision-making processes, but it is questionable as to what level one can ensure true FPIC in the Indigenous context.²
  • It remains a question as too how effectively due diligence can be applied to research protocols, so as to ensure that the rights associated with FPIC and the UNDRIP framework are upheld….(More)”.

Foundations of Information Ethics


Book by John T. F. Burgess and Emily J. M. Knox: “As discussions about the roles played by information in economic, political, and social arenas continue to evolve, the need for an intellectual primer on information ethics that also functions as a solid working casebook for LIS students and professionals has never been more urgent. This text, written by a stellar group of ethics scholars and contributors from around the globe, expertly fills that need. Organized into twelve chapters, making it ideal for use by instructors, this volume from editors Burgess and Knox

  • thoroughly covers principles and concepts in information ethics, as well as the history of ethics in the information professions;
  • examines human rights, information access, privacy, discourse, intellectual property, censorship, data and cybersecurity ethics, intercultural information ethics, and global digital citizenship and responsibility;
  • synthesizes the philosophical underpinnings of these key subjects with abundant primary source material to provide historical context along with timely and relevant case studies;
  • features contributions from John M. Budd, Paul T. Jaeger, Rachel Fischer, Margaret Zimmerman, Kathrine A. Henderson, Peter Darch, Michael Zimmer, and Masooda Bashir, among others; and
  • offers a special concluding chapter by Amelia Gibson that explores emerging issues in information ethics, including discussions ranging from the ethics of social media and social movements to AI decision making…(More)”.

From Theory to Practice : Open Government Data, Accountability, and Service Delivery


Report by Michael Christopher Jelenic: “Open data and open government data have recently attracted much attention as a means to innovate, add value, and improve outcomes in a variety of sectors, public and private. Although some of the benefits of open data initiatives have been assessed in the past, particularly their economic and financial returns, it is often more difficult to evaluate their social and political impacts. In the public sector, a murky theory of change has emerged that links the use of open government data with greater government accountability as well as improved service delivery in key sectors, including health and education, among others. In the absence of cross-country empirical research on this topic, this paper asks the following: Based on the evidence available, to what extent and for what reasons is the use of open government data associated with higher levels of accountability and improved service delivery in developing countries?

To answer this question, the paper constructs a unique data set that operationalizes open government data, government accountability, service delivery, as well as other intervening and control variables. Relying on data from 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the paper finds a number of significant associations between open government data, accountability, and service delivery. However, the findings suggest differentiated effects of open government data across the health and education sectors, as well as with respect to service provision and service delivery outcomes. Although this early research has limitations and does not attempt to establish a purely causal relationship between the variables, it provides initial empirical support for claims about the efficacy of open government data for improving accountability and service delivery….(More)”

The Tricky Ethics of Using YouTube Videos for Academic Research


Jane C.Hu in P/S Magazine: “…But just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily unethical, either, but it’s worth asking questions about how and why researchers use social media posts, and whether those uses could be harmful. I was once a researcher who had to obtain human-subjects approval from a university institutional review board, and I know it can be a painstaking application process with long wait times. Collecting data from individuals takes a long time too. If you could just sub in YouTube videos in place of collecting your own data, that saves time, money, and effort. But that could be at the expense of the people whose data you’re scraping.

But, you might say, if people don’t want to be studied online, then they shouldn’t post anything. But most people don’t fully understand what “publicly available” really means or its ramifications. “You might know intellectually that technically anyone can see a tweet, but you still conceptualize your audience as being your 200 Twitter followers,” Fiesler says. In her research, she’s found that the majority of people she’s polled have no clue that researchers study public tweets.

Some may disagree that it’s researchers’ responsibility to work around social media users’ ignorance, but Fiesler and others are calling for their colleagues to be more mindful about any work that uses publicly available data. For instance, Ashley Patterson, an assistant professor of language and literacy at Penn State University, ultimately decided to use YouTube videos in her dissertation work on biracial individuals’ educational experiences. That’s a decision she arrived at after carefully considering her options each step of the way. “I had to set my own levels of ethical standards and hold myself to it, because I knew no one else would,” she says. One of Patterson’s first steps was to ask herself what YouTube videos would add to her work, and whether there were any other ways to collect her data. “It’s not a matter of whether it makes my life easier, or whether it’s ‘just data out there’ that would otherwise go to waste. The nature of my question and the response I was looking for made this an appropriate piece [of my work],” she says.

Researchers may also want to consider qualitative, hard-to-quantify contextual cues when weighing ethical decisions. What kind of data is being used? Fiesler points out that tweets about, say, a television show are way less personal than ones about a sensitive medical condition. Anonymized written materials, like Facebook posts, could be less invasive than using someone’s face and voice from a YouTube video. And the potential consequences of the research project are worth considering too. For instance, Fiesler and other critics have pointed out that researchers who used YouTube videos of people documenting their experience undergoing hormone replacement therapy to train an artificial intelligence to identify trans people could be putting their unwitting participants in danger. It’s not obvious how the results of Speech2Face will be used, and, when asked for comment, the paper’s researchers said they’d prefer to quote from their paper, which pointed to a helpful purpose: providing a “representative face” based on the speaker’s voice on a phone call. But one can also imagine dangerous applications, like doxing anonymous YouTubers.

One way to get ahead of this, perhaps, is to take steps to explicitly inform participants their data is being used. Fiesler says that, when her team asked people how they’d feel after learning their tweets had been used for research, “not everyone was necessarily super upset, but most people were surprised.” They also seemed curious; 85 percent of participants said that, if their tweet were included in research, they’d want to read the resulting paper. “In human-subjects research, the ethical standard is informed consent, but inform and consent can be pulled apart; you could potentially inform people without getting their consent,” Fiesler suggests….(More)”.

How Can We Overcome the Challenge of Biased and Incomplete Data?


Knowledge@Wharton: “Data analytics and artificial intelligence are transforming our lives. Be it in health care, in banking and financial services, or in times of humanitarian crises — data determine the way decisions are made. But often, the way data is collected and measured can result in biased and incomplete information, and this can significantly impact outcomes.  

In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton at the SWIFT Institute Conference on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Financial Services Industry, Alexandra Olteanu, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, U.S. and Canada, discussed the ethical and people considerations in data collection and artificial intelligence and how we can work towards removing the biases….

….Knowledge@Wharton: Bias is a big issue when you’re dealing with humanitarian crises, because it can influence who gets help and who doesn’t. When you translate that into the business world, especially in financial services, what implications do you see for algorithmic bias? What might be some of the consequences?

Olteanu: A good example is from a new law in the New York state according to which insurance companies can now use social media to decide the level for your premiums. But, they could in fact end up using incomplete information. For instance, you might be buying your vegetables from the supermarket or a farmer’s market, but these retailers might not be tracking you on social media. So nobody knows that you are eating vegetables. On the other hand, a bakery that you visit might post something when you buy from there. Based on this, the insurance companies may conclude that you only eat cookies all the time. This shows how even incomplete data can affect you….(More)”.

The 100 Questions Initiative: Sourcing 100 questions on key societal challenges that can be answered by data insights


100Q Screenshot

Press Release: “The Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering announced the launch of the 100 Questions Initiative — an effort to identify the most important societal questions whose answers can be found in data and data science if the power of data collaboratives is harnessed.

The initiative, launched with initial support from Schmidt Futures, seeks to address challenges on numerous topics, including migration, climate change, poverty, and the future of work.

For each of these areas and more, the initiative will seek to identify questions that could help unlock the potential of data and data science with the broader goal of fostering positive social, environmental, and economic transformation. These questions will be sourced by leveraging “bilinguals” — practitioners across disciplines from all over the world who possess both domain knowledge and data science expertise.

The 100 Questions Initiative starts by identifying 10 key questions related to migration. These include questions related to the geographies of migration, migrant well-being, enforcement and security, and the vulnerabilities of displaced people. This inaugural effort involves partnerships with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Commission, both of which will provide subject-matter expertise and facilitation support within the framework of the Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M).

“While there have been tremendous efforts to gather and analyze data relevant to many of the world’s most pressing challenges, as a society, we have not taken the time to ensure we’re asking the right questions to unlock the true potential of data to help address these challenges,” said Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder and chief research and development officer of The GovLab. “Unlike other efforts focused on data supply or data science expertise, this project seeks to radically improve the set of questions that, if answered, could transform the way we solve 21st century problems.”

In addition to identifying key questions, the 100 Questions Initiative will also focus on creating new data collaboratives. Data collaboratives are an emerging form of public-private partnership that help unlock the public interest value of previously siloed data. The GovLab has conducted significant research in the value of data collaboration, identifying that inter-sectoral collaboration can both increase access to information (e.g., the vast stores of data held by private companies) as well as unleash the potential of that information to serve the public good….(More)”.

MegaPixels


About: “…MegaPixels is an art and research project first launched in 2017 for an installation at Tactical Technology Collective’s GlassRoom about face recognition datasets. In 2018 MegaPixels was extended to cover pedestrian analysis datasets for a commission by Elevate Arts festival in Austria. Since then MegaPixels has evolved into a large-scale interrogation of hundreds of publicly-available face and person analysis datasets, the first of which launched on this site in April 2019.

MegaPixels aims to provide a critical perspective on machine learning image datasets, one that might otherwise escape academia and industry funded artificial intelligence think tanks that are often supported by the several of the same technology companies who have created datasets presented on this site.

MegaPixels is an independent project, designed as a public resource for educators, students, journalists, and researchers. Each dataset presented on this site undergoes a thorough review of its images, intent, and funding sources. Though the goals are similar to publishing an academic paper, MegaPixels is a website-first research project, with an academic publication to follow.

One of the main focuses of the dataset investigations presented on this site is to uncover where funding originated. Because of our emphasis on other researcher’s funding sources, it is important that we are transparent about our own….(More)”.