Ethical issues surrounding the use of data: a call for papers from the Peace Informatics Lab

/ April 7, 2015

The Peace Informatics Lab at Leiden University, an RDF partner, is editing a special issue of the Journal of Ethics and Information Technology and has issued a call for papers (deadline 31 May). More details below:

“This special issue encourages authors from various disciplines to submit papers that explore ethical issues related to the use of Big Data for international development, humanitarian & crisis response, mediation, international law, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction both from a policy development and a system design perspective.


We see a growing number of initiatives and actors working on new ways to apply the potential of Big Data for human development. How could the emergence of Big Data help to improve the conditions of the global poor? Will more and more diverse data sources allow improving policy responses to humanitarian crises and violent conflicts? Could Big Data help fostering peace, development and stability? While opportunities seem promising, Big Data raises significant challenges, especially when it comes to developing a more ‘people-centered’ agenda.

In this context concerns are being raised regarding the protection of privacy and upholding principles of do no harm; but there are also questions about the responsible use of data, which – in many instances – pose serious challenges in terms of availability and validity.

Reflecting this development, the notion ‘Big Data for Humanity’ was coined at a conference in August 2014 in The Hague and the recent international expert meeting Responsible Data for Humanitarian Response.

Submission themes

Submissions are invited on the themes below:

Data collection

  • Tackling the data deficit in the Global South
  • Standards (central and decentral)
  • Sharing and ownership
  • Anonymization
  • Quality, validity and viability

Data analytics

  • Methodologies and approaches
  • Verification
  • Representativeness and bias
  • Ground-truthing and context sensitivity

Responsible data use

  • Do no harm
  • Risks, dual use and unintended consequences
  • Privacy and human rights
  • Human-centered design and stakeholder trust
  • Informed consent
  • Data governance: regulation, oversight and enforcement

Emerging trends

  • Responsible innovation
  • Ethics by design and value sensitive design
  • Institutional challenges
  • New digital divide
  • Innovative methodologies and technologies
  • Open data
  • Involvement of the crowd

What kind of processes, systems or new technologies can be considered appropriate additions to today’s and future research practices vis-à-vis the topics outlined above?

Submission details

Papers should be submitted using the online submission system by 31 May 2015. Contact managing editor Noëmi Manders-Huits or Thomas Baar at Leiden University’s Peace Informatics Lab for more information.”

About the contributor

Tom started out writing and editing for newspapers, consultancies and think tanks on topics including politics and corruption in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, then moved into designing and managing election-related projects in countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Bolivia. After getting interested in what data and technology could add in those areas and elsewhere, he made a beeline for The Engine Room. Tom is trying to read all of the Internet, but mostly spends his time picking out useful resources and trends for organisations using technology in their work.

See Tom's Articles

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