Big Data: balancing interests
Individual, public and commercial interests with respect to ‘Big Data’ sometimes conflict. How to strike a balance? This project develops a regulatory and institutional framework.
To investigate the potential and the risks of the use of data-analytics across domains, the researchers conduct case studies in the fields of energy, law enforcement, and data platforms. The project will design a regulatory and institutional framework that allows for utilisation of data analytics to serve the interests of governments, companies and citizens/consumers, while it also safeguards individual rights and liberties (such as autonomy and privacy).
Two Dutch ministries published highly relevant reports on Big Data in 2016:
- Big data in een vrije en veilige samenleving (or “Big data in a free and safe society”, commissioned by the ministry of Security and Justice from the WRR)
- Licht op de digitale schaduw (or “Light on the digital shadow”, commissioned by the expert group Big Data and Privacy of the ministry of Economic affairs)
These two reports show the urgency of this project, and both raise questions that the researchers will address. It will focus on mapping the ethical and societal opportunities and challenges of data analytics in the area of criminal investigation (police), smart networks (energy) and social media. The goal is to design a regulatory and institutional landscape - with a system of checks and balances - so that the interests of all parties are served, while potential harms are minimised.
The project will answer the following questions:
- Which knowledge can public parties and private parties obtain from using data analytics when linking their databases?
- How can these parties use the obtained knowledge to create (a) novel/improved services for citizens, and for (b) fraud detection and criminal investigation?
- How can the interests of citizens be aligned with those of the government and those of businesses in such a way that citizens benefit maximally and suffer minimal restrictions on their rights and freedoms?
- What regulatory and institutional landscape is required to guarantee an optimal balance between (a) citizens’ interests and freedoms and (b) the interests of businesses and governments?
The project activities now specifically focus on the following issues:
- The interplay of human and computer-based judgments;
- A better understanding of algorithmic discrimination, and of how data-analytics itself can contribute both to a better understanding and to solutions for algorithmic discrimination;
- The responsible use of data-analytics in the public sector in light of the principles of a constitutional democracy.
To answer these questions the researchers combine empirical and theoretical research. The project is of a highly interdisciplinary nature, which is reflected in the research team coming from the fields of data analytics and computer science, law, and philosophy and ethics of technology.
Variety of domains
The collection and analysis of the vast amount of data in our increasingly networked world (Big Data) holds great potential for both governments and businesses. Data-driven services and products are being developed in a wide variety of domains and for the benefit of public and private goods, for example safety and security and health protection and prevention. The increasing availability of data and the increasing capacity to analyse them also creates threats to individual liberties, such as autonomy and privacy. These risks are particularly increased when data are analysed across different contexts.
big data, data mining, police, data analytics, data analytics, law enforcement, data science, social media, smart grids, privacy, securityOfficial project title: