Several times over the last year, researchers have written about the notion of data justice (Heeks and Renken here, Johnson here, and Dencik, Hintz and Cable here). They use this terminology to bring together important concerns about the way that data, and big data in particular, are affecting society, politics and development. These authors all […]

Data protection doesn’t engage with the collective level – is it time for change?

Today I heard about yet another ‘big data’ research project on ‘refugees-and-migrants’ and it became time to write something.  The project aimed to interview undocumented migrants in Europe, then combine those interviews with data from mobile phones, bank accounts and national databases, and also with data from the organisations responsible for controlling the presence of […]

I  just wrote a paper about claims I’ve heard in the development/humanitarian research world that big data should be treated as a public good. It’s called The ethics of big data as a public good: which public? Whose good? And you can find a pre-print here. I argue that there’s a reason mobile operators are […]

I just published a commentary in IEEE Internet Computing that argues that treating internet access as a right is having some unexpected consequences for other rights. Here’s an excerpt: By arguing for a universal right to the internet, we turn the internet into something universal, decontextualised and apolitical, whereas in fact it is precisely the opposite. […]

The Centre for Internet and Society recently released a groundbreaking paper on the practical, legal and ethical implications of using mobile phone data (CDRs, or Call Detail Records) in emergencies, with Liberia’s experience of the recent Ebola epidemic as the case study. Written by Sean Martin McDonald, the paper is brilliant, insightful and well researched, […]

In a recent paper, Dennis Broeders and I suggested that in the era of big data, we see rather than read. States have traditionally gathered data on their citizens in person, through survey methods, and have used those data to inform policymaking. James C Scott, in his book Seeing Like a State, refers to this […]