The government in the UK recently passed legislature to regulate what they are calling ‘big data’. This is an umbrella term to describe all of the major meta data being collected recently such as the data that might be collected from Facebook and Microsoft concerning usage of their products by the public. To provide ethics and regulations for this type of data, a new committee will be put into place at the Alan Turing Institute.
I thought this story was an interesting take on ethics. We always talk about ethics in terms of potential (physical) harm to the individual. With the advances in technology and the ability to quickly access and analyze large sets of personal data it makes sense that different countries are attempting to put regulations in place to try and curb misuse. I think it is great that they are trying to put rules in place now before things get out of control. This would be in contrast to the type of bioethics committees in the US that were largely formed due to the public exposure of unethical experimentation such as the Tuskegee experiments. One aspect that I am not sure about is how long these different regulations can last before reform is needed to keep up with the times. Technology is always changing and surely new ways of mining personal data will be developed. It will be interesting how these different committees interpret these new technologies and how the rules are adjusted to protect the public.