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Ethics and Politics of Big Data
Prof. Rob Kitchin
Maynooth University
Towards a Magna Carta for Data: a workshop on the ethics of Big Data
Predict, 17th September 2015
Background
• All-Island Research
Observatory (www.airo.ie)
• Dublin Dashboard
(www.dublindashboard.ie)
• Digital Repository of Ireland
(DRI; www.dri.ie)
• The Programmable City
Big data & smart cities
• Diverse range of public and private
generation of fine-scale (uniquely
indexical) data about citizens and
places in real-time:
• utilities
• transport providers
• environmental agencies
• mobile phone operators
• travel and accommodation websites
• social media sites
• financial institutions and retail chains
• private surveillance and security
firms
• emergency services
• home appliances and entertainment
systems
• Producing a data deluge that can be
combined, analyzed, acted upon
Data type Data collected by Uber android app (from Hein 2014)
Accounts log email log
App Activity name, package name, process number of activity, processed id
App Data Usage Cache size, code size, data size, name, package name
App Install installed at, name, package name, unknown sources enabled, version code, version
name
Battery health, level, plugged, present, scale, status, technology, temperature, voltage
Device Info board, brand, build version, cell number, device, device type, display, fingerprint, IP,
MAC address, manufacturer, model, OS platform, product, SDK code, total disk
space, unknown sources enabled
GPS accuracy, altitude, latitude, longitude, provider, speed
MMS from number, MMS at, MMS type, service number, to number
NetData bytes received, bytes sent, connection type, interface type
PhoneCall call duration, called at, from number, phone call type, to number
SMS from number, service number, SMS at, SMS type, to number
TelephonyInfo cell tower ID, cell tower latitude, cell tower longitude, IMEI, ISO country code, local
area code, MEID, mobile country code, mobile network code, network name,
network type, phone type, SIM serial number, SIM state, subscriber ID
WifiConnection BSSID, IP, linkspeed, MAC addr, network ID, RSSI, SSID
WifiNeighbors BSSID, capabilities, frequency, level, SSID
Root Check root status code, root status reason code, root version, sig file version
Malware Info algorithm confidence, app list, found malware, malware SDK version, package list,
reason code, service list, sigfile version
Ethics and politics of data
• Consists of much more than issues of privacy and security that it
often gets boiled down to:
• Data ownership and control
• Data integration and data markets
• Data security and integrity
• Data protection and privacy
• Data quality and provenance
• Dataveillance/surveillance
• Data uses: Social sorting, predictive profiling, control creep,
dynamic pricing, anticipatory governance
• The politics of data
• Each of these issues is: multidimensional & contested; involve
multiple ethical & political questions; varies in nature across
domains; which ethical philosophy adopted matters
A Taxonomy of Privacy (compiled from Solove 2006)
Domain Privacy breach Description
Information
Collection
Surveillance Watching, listening to, or recording of an individual’s activities
Interrogation Various forms of questioning or probing for information
Information
Processing
Aggregation The combination of various pieces of data about a person
Identification Linking information to particular individuals
Insecurity Carelessness in protecting stored information from leaks and
improper access
Secondary Use Use of information collected for one purpose for a different
purpose without the data subject’s consent
Exclusion Failure to allow the data subject to know about the data that others
have about her and participate in its handling and use, including
being barred from being able to access and correct errors
Information
Dissemination
Breach of Confidentiality Breaking a promise to keep a person’s information confidential
Disclosure Revelation of information about a person that impacts the way
others judge her character
Exposure Revealing another’s nudity, grief, or bodily functions
Increased Accessibility Amplifying the accessibility of information
Blackmail Threat to disclose personal information
Appropriation The use of the data subject’s identity to serve the aims and
interests of another
Distortion Dissemination of false or misleading information about individuals
Invasion Intrusion Invasive acts that disturb one’s tranquillity or solitude
Decisional Interference Incursion into the data subject’s decisions regarding her private
The politics of urban data
Material Platform
(infrastructure – hardware)
Code Platform
(operating system)
Code/algorithms
(software)
Data(base)
Interface
Reception/Operation
(user/usage)
Systems of thought
Forms of knowledge
Finance
Political economies
Governmentalities & legalities
Organisations and institutions
Subjectivities and communities
Marketplace
System/process
performs a task
Context
frames the system/task
Digital socio-technical assemblage
Places
Practices
Philosophy, ethics and data
• Egalitarianism -- equality in power/rights regardless of
ability and inheritance
• Utilitarianism -- the greater good for the greatest
number
• Libertarianism -- prioritises the value of the individual
over the state and society; free-market is inherently just
• Contractarianism -- seeks to find a position that all
involved considers just (not equal)
• Communitarianism –- promotes ideas of community, and
community ways of life with common shared practices
and shared understandings
• Each ethics philosophy leads to a particular kind of
Magna Carta
Technical data concerns and ethics
• Data coverage and access
(openness)
• Data quality and provenance:
veracity (accuracy, fidelity),
uncertainty, error, bias,
reliability, calibration, lineage
• Quality, veracity and
transparency of data analytics
• Ecological fallacy and
interpretation issues
• Downstream consequences of
data uses on poor quality data
Magna Carta for Data
• https://www.insight-centre.org/magna-carta-for-data
• Bill of rights concerning data
• Set of general principles – voluntary code?
• Refresh and extension of Fair Information Practice
Principles?
Fair Information Practice Principles
Principle Description
Notice Individuals are informed that data are being generated and the
purpose to which the data will be put
Choice Individuals have the choice to opt-in or opt-out as to whether and
how their data will be used or disclosed
Consent Data are only generated and disclosed with the consent of
individuals
Security Data are protected from loss, misuse, unauthorized access,
disclosure, alteration and destruction
Integrity Data are reliable, accurate, complete and current
Access Individuals can access, check and verify data about themselves
Accountability The data holder is accountable for ensuring the above principles
and has mechanisms in place to assure compliance
Magna Carta for Data
• Bill of rights concerning data
• Set of general principles – voluntary code?
• Refresh and extension of Fair Information Practice Principles?
• High level rather than nitty-gritty rules and practices within
domains
• Is not going to mitigate the need for standards, protocols,
regulation and legislation; but could help guide/frame debates
• Would be one part of every data assemblage
• Designing a Magna Carta for Data will be an exercise in
negotiating the politics of data and philosophy/ethics
• Certainly a worthwhile exercise, but will not be a panacea to
evolving big data ethical issues
Rob.Kitchin@nuim.ie
@robkitchin
www.maynoothuniversity.ie/progcity

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Ethics and Politics of Big Data

  • 1. Ethics and Politics of Big Data Prof. Rob Kitchin Maynooth University Towards a Magna Carta for Data: a workshop on the ethics of Big Data Predict, 17th September 2015
  • 2. Background • All-Island Research Observatory (www.airo.ie) • Dublin Dashboard (www.dublindashboard.ie) • Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI; www.dri.ie) • The Programmable City
  • 3. Big data & smart cities • Diverse range of public and private generation of fine-scale (uniquely indexical) data about citizens and places in real-time: • utilities • transport providers • environmental agencies • mobile phone operators • travel and accommodation websites • social media sites • financial institutions and retail chains • private surveillance and security firms • emergency services • home appliances and entertainment systems • Producing a data deluge that can be combined, analyzed, acted upon
  • 4. Data type Data collected by Uber android app (from Hein 2014) Accounts log email log App Activity name, package name, process number of activity, processed id App Data Usage Cache size, code size, data size, name, package name App Install installed at, name, package name, unknown sources enabled, version code, version name Battery health, level, plugged, present, scale, status, technology, temperature, voltage Device Info board, brand, build version, cell number, device, device type, display, fingerprint, IP, MAC address, manufacturer, model, OS platform, product, SDK code, total disk space, unknown sources enabled GPS accuracy, altitude, latitude, longitude, provider, speed MMS from number, MMS at, MMS type, service number, to number NetData bytes received, bytes sent, connection type, interface type PhoneCall call duration, called at, from number, phone call type, to number SMS from number, service number, SMS at, SMS type, to number TelephonyInfo cell tower ID, cell tower latitude, cell tower longitude, IMEI, ISO country code, local area code, MEID, mobile country code, mobile network code, network name, network type, phone type, SIM serial number, SIM state, subscriber ID WifiConnection BSSID, IP, linkspeed, MAC addr, network ID, RSSI, SSID WifiNeighbors BSSID, capabilities, frequency, level, SSID Root Check root status code, root status reason code, root version, sig file version Malware Info algorithm confidence, app list, found malware, malware SDK version, package list, reason code, service list, sigfile version
  • 5. Ethics and politics of data • Consists of much more than issues of privacy and security that it often gets boiled down to: • Data ownership and control • Data integration and data markets • Data security and integrity • Data protection and privacy • Data quality and provenance • Dataveillance/surveillance • Data uses: Social sorting, predictive profiling, control creep, dynamic pricing, anticipatory governance • The politics of data • Each of these issues is: multidimensional & contested; involve multiple ethical & political questions; varies in nature across domains; which ethical philosophy adopted matters
  • 6. A Taxonomy of Privacy (compiled from Solove 2006) Domain Privacy breach Description Information Collection Surveillance Watching, listening to, or recording of an individual’s activities Interrogation Various forms of questioning or probing for information Information Processing Aggregation The combination of various pieces of data about a person Identification Linking information to particular individuals Insecurity Carelessness in protecting stored information from leaks and improper access Secondary Use Use of information collected for one purpose for a different purpose without the data subject’s consent Exclusion Failure to allow the data subject to know about the data that others have about her and participate in its handling and use, including being barred from being able to access and correct errors Information Dissemination Breach of Confidentiality Breaking a promise to keep a person’s information confidential Disclosure Revelation of information about a person that impacts the way others judge her character Exposure Revealing another’s nudity, grief, or bodily functions Increased Accessibility Amplifying the accessibility of information Blackmail Threat to disclose personal information Appropriation The use of the data subject’s identity to serve the aims and interests of another Distortion Dissemination of false or misleading information about individuals Invasion Intrusion Invasive acts that disturb one’s tranquillity or solitude Decisional Interference Incursion into the data subject’s decisions regarding her private
  • 7. The politics of urban data Material Platform (infrastructure – hardware) Code Platform (operating system) Code/algorithms (software) Data(base) Interface Reception/Operation (user/usage) Systems of thought Forms of knowledge Finance Political economies Governmentalities & legalities Organisations and institutions Subjectivities and communities Marketplace System/process performs a task Context frames the system/task Digital socio-technical assemblage Places Practices
  • 8. Philosophy, ethics and data • Egalitarianism -- equality in power/rights regardless of ability and inheritance • Utilitarianism -- the greater good for the greatest number • Libertarianism -- prioritises the value of the individual over the state and society; free-market is inherently just • Contractarianism -- seeks to find a position that all involved considers just (not equal) • Communitarianism –- promotes ideas of community, and community ways of life with common shared practices and shared understandings • Each ethics philosophy leads to a particular kind of Magna Carta
  • 9. Technical data concerns and ethics • Data coverage and access (openness) • Data quality and provenance: veracity (accuracy, fidelity), uncertainty, error, bias, reliability, calibration, lineage • Quality, veracity and transparency of data analytics • Ecological fallacy and interpretation issues • Downstream consequences of data uses on poor quality data
  • 10. Magna Carta for Data • https://www.insight-centre.org/magna-carta-for-data • Bill of rights concerning data • Set of general principles – voluntary code? • Refresh and extension of Fair Information Practice Principles?
  • 11. Fair Information Practice Principles Principle Description Notice Individuals are informed that data are being generated and the purpose to which the data will be put Choice Individuals have the choice to opt-in or opt-out as to whether and how their data will be used or disclosed Consent Data are only generated and disclosed with the consent of individuals Security Data are protected from loss, misuse, unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction Integrity Data are reliable, accurate, complete and current Access Individuals can access, check and verify data about themselves Accountability The data holder is accountable for ensuring the above principles and has mechanisms in place to assure compliance
  • 12. Magna Carta for Data • Bill of rights concerning data • Set of general principles – voluntary code? • Refresh and extension of Fair Information Practice Principles? • High level rather than nitty-gritty rules and practices within domains • Is not going to mitigate the need for standards, protocols, regulation and legislation; but could help guide/frame debates • Would be one part of every data assemblage • Designing a Magna Carta for Data will be an exercise in negotiating the politics of data and philosophy/ethics • Certainly a worthwhile exercise, but will not be a panacea to evolving big data ethical issues