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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

Web Science Institute hosts Ethics Symposium at Taylor Wessing, London

Published: 22 July 2016
WSI Ethics Symposium
WSI Ethics Symposium

The Web Science Institute hosted an Ethics Symposium at Taylor Wessing, London on Tuesday, 19th July 2016 bringing together experts and practitioners from a wide range of stakeholders who focussed on the specific challenges of data sharing.

The rapid growth and diversification of the World Wide Web is now generating unparalleled opportunities to observe the everyday activities of billions of people around the world. This involves tracking, recording, archiving, sharing and actively using data for commerce, government and research. Over recent years, considerable attention has been devoted to unravelling the profound ethical challenges that this raises.

It is now increasingly clear that the well-established legal and professional frameworks on which we have relied to secure best practice in the past are inadequate in a world characterised by increasingly promiscuous data sharing. The possibilities to observe without consent, a shift from datasets to real-time data streams, and the invisibility of data collection, algorithms and tools are some of the challenges faced.

This symposium focussed on the specific challenges of data sharing, which is now no longer vertical (between people and organisations) but is increasingly networked. Principles of informed consent and anonymity in this environment are no longer the answer - but what is? Experts and practitioners from a wide range of stakeholders worked to map some of these complexities and explore possible solutions.

The morning began with a welcome by Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director, Web Science Institute, University of Southampton followed by a keynote talk delivered by Woodrow Hartzog, Assistant Professor, Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, USA. Later in the moring there was a panel led by Dr Thanassis Tiropanis, University of Southampton with panellists, Dr Mariarosaria Taddeo, Researcher - Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Professor Jon Crowcroft University of Cambridge, Caroline Wilson, Anura Consulting Ltd and Libby Bishop, UK Data Archive. The morning ended with a closing keynote talk delivered by Mireille Hildebrandt, Research Professor of Interfacing Law and Technology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. This was followed by a networking lunch.




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Professor Dame Wendy Hall
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Woodrow Hartzog
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Panellists from left to right, Jon Crowcroft, Mariarosaria Taddeo, Caroline Wilson, Libby Bishop, Dr Thanassis Tiropanis
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Mireille Hildebrandt


Any discussion that involves the ethics of gathering, analysing and sharing data is always fascinating, given that there are so many situations and nuances that even Web Science students like myself haven’t previously considered.....


Observing the Web: ethics in a data-sharing world. A Symposium by Sarah Hewitt.  

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