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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Digital Ethics in Higher Education: 2020 – BecauseReview (John O’Brien | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 21, 2020
 

New technologies, especially those relying on artificial intelligence or data analytics, are exciting but also present ethical challenges that deserve our attention and action. Higher education can and must lead the way.

Some news stories are hard to forget, like the one from a decade ago about a teenager who was texting while walking and fell into an open manhole on the street. Many headlines made fun of the scraped-up fifteen-year-old. But most of the news stories were focused on the people involved and thus didn’t see the bigger story about the place where humans and technology clash—or, in this case, crash.1

A lengthy piece, but a useful discussion on a very topical matter.  We have included a selection of related items.  Regardless of how far away the singularity is, smart (and bias laden) algorithms are already having a big impact on everyday life.

In 2020, I remember this story and see it as perhaps the perfect metaphor for the challenge of digital ethics. New technologies, many that depend on private data or emerging artificial intelligence (AI) applications, are being rolled out with enthusiastic abandon. These dazzling technologies capture our attention and inspire our imagination. Meanwhile, fascinated by these developments, we may soon see the ground drop out from under us. We need to find a way to pay attention to both the rapid technology innovations and the very real implications for the people who use them—or, as some would say, the people who are used by them.
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I believe we are at a crucial point in the evolution of technology. We must come to grips with digital ethics, which I define simply as “doing the right thing at the intersection of technology innovation and accepted social values.” This is a straightforward-enough definition; however, given the speed of technology change and the relativity of social values, even a simple definition may be trickier than it seems. For example, at the point where they clash, the desire for the latest data-powered apps and the desire for fiercely protected privacy reveal significant ethical fault lines. Which desire prevails? And while we contemplate this question, the development of new apps continues.

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Ethical guidelines for COVID-19 tracing apps – Nature (Jessica Morley, et al | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 13, 2020
 

Protect privacy, equality and fairness in digital contact tracing with these key questions.

Technologies to rapidly alert people when they have been in contact with someone carrying the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are part of a strategy to bring the pandemic under control. Currently, at least 47 contact-tracing apps are available globally (see go.nature.com/2zc1qhk). They are already in use in Australia, South Korea and Singapore, for instance. And many other governments are testing or considering them.

Not really research, but a topical discussion on big data, privacy, consent and respect for persons, which are of significance to research.

Here we set out 16 questions to assess whether — and to what extent — a contact-tracing app is ethically justifiable. These questions could assist governments, public-health agencies and providers to develop ethical apps — they have already informed developments in France, Italy and the United Kingdom. They will also help watchdogs and others to scrutinize such technologies.
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What do COVID-19 contact-tracing apps do? Running on a mobile phone, they inform people that they have spent time near someone with the virus. The contacts should then respond according to local rules, for example by isolating themselves. Prompt alerts are key because the incubation time of the virus is up to two weeks.

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Reconsidering Dynamic Consent in Biobanking: Ethical and Political Consequences of Transforming Research Participants Into ICT Users (Papers: Alexandra Soulier | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 14, 2020
 

Abstract:
Biobanks are not new. However, the scope of their application is growing, especially in genomics. Biobanks are also currently being reorganized to enable more genomic samples to be made available for different types of studies. Some future uses of the biobanks cannot be anticipated.

Keywords:
Genomics, Bioinformatics, Real-time systems, Internet, Information and communication technology, Law

Soulier, A. (2019) “Reconsidering Dynamic Consent in Biobanking: Ethical and Political Consequences of Transforming Research Participants Into ICT Users,” in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 62-70, June 2019.
Publisher: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8733941å

Data retention scheme is being abused exactly as critics predicted | Crikey (Bernard Keane | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 30, 2020
 

A review of the Abbott government’s data retention scheme has shown it is being widely abused by scores of bodies around the country.

A review of the mass surveillance scheme established by the Abbott government six years ago has revealed how it is being widely abused in ways voters were assured would never happen.

Not human research ethics per se, but the privacy, consent and ‘respect for persons’ issues in Australia were serious enough we felt the item important enough to include in the Resource Library, especially in the context of the COVID-19 app.

The government’s data retention regime, which compels communications providers to retain personal information on service use by customers for two years, is currently the subject of a statutory review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
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When the Abbott government introduced the scheme in 2014, it assured Australians that the unprecedented level of surveillance of their communications metadata — which can be used to construct a detailed portrait of an individual’s life beyond that provided by any content they may use — would be subject to strict controls.
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Its use would be limited to serious offences and a small number of security agencies — just 22 across the state and federal governments.
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Those commitments have turned out to be false.
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