A recent blog post by Ian Lundberg on Freedom to Tinker summarizes a paper about the privacy and ethics process from the Fragile Families Challenge. The paper will appear in a special issue of the journal Socius.
Academic researchers, companies, and governments holding data face a fundamental tension between risk to respondents and benefits to science. On one hand, these data custodians might like to share data with a wide and diverse set of researchers in order to maximize possible benefits to science. On the other hand, the data custodians might like to keep data locked away in order to protect the privacy of those whose information is in the data. Our paper is about the process we used to handle this fundamental tension in one particular setting: the Fragile Families Challenge, a scientific mass collaboration designed to yield insights that could improve the lives of disadvantaged children in the United States. We wrote this paper not because we believe we eliminated privacy risk, but because others might benefit from our process and improve upon it.
To read the full post, see the Freedom to Tinker blog. Freedom to Tinker is hosted by Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, a research center that studies digital technologies in public life.