A group of Danish researchers, led by Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, recently publicly released a dataset of nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid, including usernames, age, gender, location, what kind of relationship (or sex) they’re interested in, personality traits, and answers to thousands of profiling questions used by the site.
When asked whether the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Kirkegaard replied bluntly: “No. Data is already public.” This sentiment is repeated in the accompanying draft paper, “The OKCupid dataset: A very large public dataset of dating site users,” posted to the online peer-review forums of Open Differential Psychology, an open-access online journal also run by Kirkegaard:
Some may object to the ethics of gathering and releasing this data. However, all the data found in the dataset are or were already publicly available, so releasing this dataset merely presents it in a more useful form.
To those concerned about privacy, research ethics, and the growing practice of publicly releasing large data sets, this logic of “but the data is already public” is an all-too-familiar refrain used to gloss over thorny ethical concerns,.
In response to this problematic data release, CIPR director Michael Zimmer published an editorial in Wired: “OkCupid Study Reveals the Perils Of Big-Data Science” (Wired, May 14, 2016). He states, in part:
The OkCupid data release reminds us that the ethical, research, and regulatory communities must work together to find consensus and minimize harm. We must address the conceptual muddles present in big data research. We must reframe the inherent ethical dilemmas in these projects. We must expand educational and outreach efforts. And we must continue to develop policy guidance focused on the unique challenges of big data studies. That is the only way can ensure innovative research—like the kind Kirkegaard hopes to pursue—can take place while protecting the rights of people an the ethical integrity of research broadly.
Zimmer also appeared on the WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio show Lake Effect to discuss “Big Data Research Creates Ethical Concerns”, noting that:
So when a researcher like this says, ‘Well this stuff was already public,’ what he kind of really means is like, ‘This stuff was visible to other users who happen to also create a profile,’ and those aren’t the same thing,” says Zimmer. “Psychologically I think it’s important for users when they sign up for this thing to have this assumption, or these set of expectations, that I know this data is kind of public but it’s meant for this community… Doing this kind of research sometimes violates that assumption.
CIPR director Michael Zimmer will be contributing to an American Library Association (ALA) webinar on “Raising Privacy Awareness in Your Library and in Your Community” in preparation for Choose Privacy Week (May 1-7, 2016).
From the ALA’s announcement:
Is your library preparing to observe Choose Privacy Week 2016? Join the ALA’s IFC Privacy Subcommittee and the Office for Intellectual Freedom for a free webinar that will offer solid guidance on developing privacy programming that will educate and engage your library users and provide an update on current privacy issues confronting libraries today.
The webinar will also offer brief introductions to resources on students’ and minors’ privacy and a guide to free and low-cost print and online resources that can support your library’s observance of Choose Privacy Week. Online registration is available via this link: http://ow.ly/ZbbOW
Choose Privacy Week is the American Library Association’s annual, week-long event that promotes the importance of individual privacy rights. Choose Privacy Week, May 1 – 7, 2016, also celebrates libraries and librarians’ unique role in protecting privacy in the library and in society as a whole. For more information on Choose Privacy Week, visit https://chooseprivacyweek.org.
CIPR Director Michael Zimmer has been named a co-chair of the RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets Working Group, a joint NISO and Research Data Alliance project, focusing on the privacy implications of shared research data. Zimmer will be joining Todd Carpenter (NISO) and Bonnie Tijerina as co-chairs leading this effort.
The working group will explore issues related to scientific research data sets that contains human subject information, as well as related datasets that have the potential to be combined in a way that can expose private information. The goal of the group is to develop a framework for how researchers and repositories should appropriately manage human-subject datasets, to develop a metadata set to describe the privacy-related aspects of research datasets, and to build awareness of the privacy implications of research data sharing. While privacy is related to the ethical, legal and data publishing issues surrounding data management of which privacy is a part, this working group is focused specifically on privacy-related concerns.
The group will focus on world-wide legal frameworks and the impacts these frameworks have on data sharing, especially with human-subject data. After gathering these legal strictures and comparing the differences and similarities, the group will begin crafting a set of principles that will provide guidance to the researcher and repository communities on how to manage these data when they are received. Building on these, the group will craft a set of use cases on how the principles will be applied. After these elements are completed, an effort to advance the principles through promotion and community outreach will be developed and executed.
The group has released a case statement that is open for comment.
Marti Koller, English Department Chair at the Baldwin-Woodville High School in northeastern Wisconsin, has been named the winner of the 2015 WLA/WEMTA Intellectual Freedom Award. The award is given jointly by the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) and the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA).
A long-time advocate of intellectual freedom, Koller has battled censorship and educated students about the principles of intellectual freedom and first amendment rights. In her work as a classroom teacher she has incorporated awareness of free speech, censorship, and intellectual freedom into the curriculum to inform and empower students on their academic journeys and beyond into their adult lives. Koller has resisted efforts to restrict content and materials, as well as holding administration accountable for following school board policy in formal reconsideration of materials both in her classes and in others.
The authors of the nomination letter recommending Koller wrote “on multiple occasions, she has lead a charge to protect the shelves at Baldwin-Woodville High School. She has defended not only content in our district, but also the proper process of challenges” and “she has pioneered a focus on censorship issues in each of her classes…her leadership has been essential in the growth of staff, students, and community.” Furthermore, “as a result [of her efforts] I believe there is increased reluctance by school officials to circumvent the established process and arbitrarily remove or restrict materials.”
Koller will be honored at the WEMTA Awards Luncheon on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Recognition will also be given during the WLA Conference in the Fall, 2015.
Since 2010, WLA and WEMTA have collaborated to give the annual intellectual freedom award. This award recognizes the contribution of an individual or group who has actively promoted intellectual freedom in Wisconsin. Funding for the award is generously provided by TeachingBooks.net and the Center for Information Policy Research at the School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO), a non-profit standards organization that develops, maintains and publishes technical standards related to publishing, bibliographic and library applications, has been awarded a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a Consensus Framework to Support Patron Privacy in Digital Library and Information Systems. The grant will support a series of community discussions on how libraries, publishers, and information systems providers can build better privacy protection into their operations. The grant will also support creation of a draft framework to support patron privacy and subsequent publicity of the draft prior to its advancement for approval as a NISO Recommended Practice.
In support of the project, NISO has convened a steering committee of practitioners, consultants, and advocates dedicated to supporting patron privacy. CIPR director Michael Zimmer has accepted an invitation to join the steering committee, and will contribute to project’s three phases.
The first will be a pre-meeting discussion phase, which will consist of four virtual forums to discuss privacy of internal library systems, privacy of publisher systems, privacy of provider systems, and legal aspects influencing data sharing and policies. Each of the discussion sessions will be a three-hour web-based session designed to lay the groundwork for a productive in-person meeting at the conclusion of the American Library Association meeting in San Francisco, CA in June 2015. Following the in-person meeting, a Framework document will be completed detailing the privacy principles and recommendations agreed to by the participants, and then circulated for public comment and finalization.
Additional information is available at the NISO website.
The recently announced 2015-2017 Wisconsin state budget proposal has received considerable attention for is potential impact on the University of Wisconsin System. Among the other entities impacted by the proposed budget is the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the state agency that advances public education and libraries in Wisconsin.
The Center for Information Policy Research contacted John DeBacher, Director of Public Library Development at the DPI, asking if there was any internal assessment of how the proposed state budget might impact library and information services in Wisconsin. In response, we were provided a preliminary budget summary document, adapted from information provided to the Wisconsin Library Association’s Library Development and Legislation Committee (LD&L).
We are sharing this preliminary assessment from the DPI below for informational purposes.
PrelimBudgetSummary2016 LibrariesPreliminary Assessment of Proposed Wisconsin State Budget on Libraries and…
The UW-Milwaukee Center for Information Policy Research is excited to welcome Prof. Neil Richards for a talk about his new book Intellectual Privacy in celebration of Choose Privacy Week, the annual initiative of the American Library Association that invites the public into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age.
Choose Privacy Week 2015 with Prof. Neil Richards
Monday, May 4, 2015
Alumni Fireside Lounge
UW-Milwaukee Student Union
2200 East Kenwood Boulevard, Milwaukee WI 53211
About Intellectual Privacy:
Most people believe that the right to privacy is inherently at odds with the right to free speech. Courts all over the world have struggled with how to reconcile the problems of media gossip with our commitment to free and open public debate for over a century. The rise of the Internet has made this problem more urgent. We live in an age of corporate and government surveillance of our lives. And our free speech culture has created an anything-goes environment on the web, where offensive and hurtful speech about others is rife. (More…)
Neil Richards is an internationally-recognized expert in privacy law, information law, and freedom of expression. He is a professor of law at Washington University School of Law, a member of the Advisory Board of the Future of Privacy Forum, and a consultant and expert in privacy cases. He graduated in 1997 from the University of Virginia School of Law, and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. His first book, Intellectual Privacy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.
The Center for Information Policy has been a proud supporter of Choose Privacy Week since its inception in 2010. Past events have included a panel discussion on “Emerging Privacy and Ethical Challenges for Libraries in the 2.0 Era” (2010), participation in an ALA webinar on “Youth Privacy” (2011), the screening of the documentary “Big Brother, Big Business: The Data-Mining and Surveillance Industries” (2012), and hosting a talk by Dr. Kelly Gates on “The Computational Work of Policing” (2013).
The Center for Information Policy Research is proud to again be a sponsor of the 3rd Milwaukee Conference on Ethics in Knowledge Organization (previously called Ethics of Information Organization). The official conference website is here, and the original call for papers is provided below.
The Big Deal: 3rd Milwaukee Conference on Ethics in Knowledge Organization
May 28-29, 2015
The role of ethics in knowledge organization has moved from the background to the foreground. Objectivity and literary warrant alone have been shown to be insufficient for ethical knowledge organization. Ethical concerns have been demonstrated in the roles of exclusivity and point-of-view, the relationship between literary and cultural warrant, in the creation of knowledge organization systems that embrace socio-political symbolism, and in the evolution of standards and professional best practices for the implementation of knowledge organization. Following the success of conferences held in 2009 and 2012, The Knowledge Organization Research Group joins with the Center for Information Policy and Research of the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to present the Third Milwaukee Conference on Ethics in Knowledge Organization. We welcome papers and posters on any aspect of ethics and knowledge organization including but not limited to: bibliographic standards, cataloging and indexing best-practices, classification, controlled vocabulary, technology, the professions, cultural, economic, political, corporate, international, multicultural and multilingual aspects of knowledge organization.
- Tina Gross, Catalog Librarian/Associate Professor, St. Cloud State University
- Joe Tennis, Associate Professor, University of Washington, and President, International Society for Knowledge Organization
Call for Papers
We invite submission of proposals which will include name(s) of presenter(s), title(s), affiliation(s), contact information and an abstract of 750 words for papers; 300-500 words for posters.
All abstracts will be published on the website of the UWM, Knowledge Organization Research Group (KOrg). Full papers will be published in a special issue of Knowledge Organization.
Submit proposals via email to Inkyung Choi: email@example.com
- Abstracts due: February 16, 2015
- Notification of acceptance by: March 16, 2015
- Full papers due: July 16, 2015
The Program Committee:
Melissa Adler, University of Kentucky, USA
Jihee Beak, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Allyson Carlyle, University of Washington, USA
José Augusto Chaves Guimarães, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil
Jane Greenberg, Drexel University, USA
Birger Hjørland, The Royal School of Library and Information Science in Denmark
Lynne C Howarth, University of Toronto, Canada
Joyce Latham, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Patrick Keilty, University of Toronto, Canada
Hur-Li Lee, Conference Co-Chair, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Jens-Erik Mai, The Royal School of Library and Information Science in Denmark
Steven J. Miller, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Hope A Olson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Sandra Roe, Milner Library, Illinois State University, USA
Richard Smiraglia, Conference Co-Chair, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Joe Tennis, University of Washington, USA
Michael Zimmer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies
The Center for Information Policy Research
The Knowledge Organization Research Group
The UW-Milwaukee Center for Information Policy Research is proud to be a co-sponsor of the 2015 Information Ethics Roundtable, hosted and organized by Dr. Alan Rubel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies.
Now in its thirteenth year, the Information Ethics Roundtable an annual conference that brings together information scientists, librarians, philosophers, and social scientists to discuss ethical issues such as intellectual property, intellectual freedom, and censorship.
For 2015, the theme is “Transparency and Secrecy”. The full call for papers is available here, and posted below.
Welcome to the Information Ethics Roundtable 2015.
Date: April 9-10, 2015
Location: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Memorial Union South
Theme: Transparency and Secrecy
- Louise Amoore, Professor of Geography, Durham University (UK), author of The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability (Duke University Press, 2013).
- Christopher Kutz, C. William Maxeiner Distinguished Professor of Law; Director, Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs, University of California, Berkeley.
Transparency is important in a variety of ways, and disputes about transparency and secrecy permeate much of our public discourse. This year’s meeting of the IER seeks papers from a variety of perspectives and disciplines addressing questions about transparency and secrecy, for example:
- What is transparency? What does it mean for something to be kept secret or made transparent?
- What justifies transparency in different domains?
- When is transparency bad, or unjustifiable? When is secrecy good, or justifiable?
- Lots of organizations seek to make government and corporate actions transparent (e.g., fact-checking organizations, open records advocacy organizations, market watchdog groups). Do they succeed? What criteria should we use to determine whether they succeed? Do they introduce other questions of information flow?
- What policies in scientific research and publishing, in journalism, in government, and in commerce best promote transparency?
- Is secret law really law?
- Is it possible to maintain and build trust within a climate of secrecy?
The goal of the 2015 Roundtable is to bring together scholars and professionals to examine these and related issues pertaining to transparency and secrecy, broadly construed. Hence, we welcome submissions on these and any related topics, and we encourage submissions from a broad range of disciplines.
Please submit an abstract of about 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 5, 2015. Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and notification of acceptance status will be sent by January 20, 2015. Paper drafts for commentators will be due by March 10, 2015.
More information is available at http://ier2015.org. For specific questions and inquiries, please contact organizer Alan Rubel at email@example.com.
Please join us for this CIPR Research Lunch on Sept 17, 2014, featuring Dr. Christopher Terry (Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies). A light lunch will be provided.
Porn, Privacy, Copyright and Net Neutrality: Standing at the Digital Crossroads of Constitutive Choice
Dr. Christopher Terry
Lecturer, Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies, UW-Milwaukee
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
12:30 – 2:00pm
2025 E Newport Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211
In The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications, sociologist Paul Starr developed a theory of “constitutive choice” to explain how the U.S. systems of mass communication had evolved differently from those of other countries. Starr explains that the design a country’s communication system is reflective of a society’s value system related to free speech, access to information, privacy and copyright. Just as with earlier systems of mass communication, as digital technology becomes a fundamental part of our media environment, we see three key issues arise-Privacy, Copyright and Net Neutrality. In terms of a media system, this is part and parcel of the constitutive choices we face in terms of the integration of the next generation of mass communication.\
Our digital media environment was shaped by the constitutive choices made in relationship to earlier communication systems but also by the changing of our traditional value system away from a citizen orientated perspective to one based in economics. Although the basic design of digital communications are reflective of the constitutive choices made for systems of communication as far back as the U.S. Postal System, the change in values away from citizen access has had a profound effect on how the system operates, the values it serves and the ways information is distributed.
The design of a system is reflective of its values, and with these changes, the dynamics, operation and design of our communication system have shifted substantially. Although policy researchers and other academics frequently discuss these changes as separate issues, the reality of modern issues of privacy and the ethics of mass data collection can be increasingly tied to the issues of surrounding digital copyright, access to information and net neutrality.
This project proposes that at the center of all of these issues, standing at the ethical crossroads between the choices we make in relationship to access to information, copyright and privacy in the digital age, is a significant series of intellectual property cases involving the illegal downloading of pornography. More than any other example, the nature of these cases illustrates the intersection between these essential values in the digital age. In terms of privacy, violators have been identified using an invasive tracking mechanism. In terms of net neutrality, internet service providers are using these cases as justification for throttling or content blocking. In terms of copyright, the constitutional premise of copyright to stimulate and enhance has been replaced by a desire to use existing copyright law as a way to coerce financial settlements by threatening to expose serial downloaders. These collective changes are setting a dangerous precedent that undermines our system of communication and the role it plays in a democratic society. Pornography has replaced political speech as non-governmental entities control our access to information.
This paper combines historical, legal and policy research to trace the significant changes in terms of ethics, law, content distribution, our value system and constitutive choice to illustrate that the time to rethink and reevaluate our priorities is now.