WP2 Legal and Ethical Aspects

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WP2 NA1_Legal and Ethical Framework 

SoBigData has a strong ethical motivation. It aims at building an ecosystem where protection of personal information and the respect for fundamental human rights can coexist with a safe use of the same information for scientific purposes of broad and central societal interest. Extreme care is taken in all parts of the project and among all consortium partners not only to guarantee compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and codes of conduct, but also to prevent unethical outcomes of the envisaged cutting edge research and applications, through ongoing analysis of the moral problems that pose constant challenges for law, regulation and governance of information technology. As such, SoBigData pursues the views that the EU is developing on Responsible Research and Innovation, and it operationalizes the values that drive the ongoing reform of the EU Data Protection legislation. It does so in two ways. Firstly, by establishing the framework that strengthens research concerning the protection of personal data as a fundamental right, while at the same time boosting the free flow of personal data as a common good. Secondly, by applying the moral and legal results and findings to its own operations and activities. Consequently, SoBigData will establish a dedicated ethical and legal board with experts in Ethics of IT and IT Law, who will:

  • Define and implement the legal and ethical framework of the SoBigData research infrastructure, in accordance with the European and national legislations (including data protection and intellectual property rights) as they develop
  • Monitor the compliance of experiments and research protocols with the framework,
  • Act as a continuous consultant for the JRAs on the development of big data analytics and social mining tools with Value-Sensitive Design and privacy-by-design methodologies, and
  • Investigate, design and promote novel architectures, protocols and procedures for the safe and fair use of big data for research purposes, in order to boost excellence and international competitiveness of Europe’s big data research. 


T2.1 Ethics Board. This task establishes and manages an Ethics Board with experts in IT law and IT ethics and external specialists in data protection and research ethics.

T2.2 Ethical and legal framework. This task defines and implements the legal and ethical framework of the SoBigData research infrastructure, in accordance with the European and national legislations (including data protection and privacy).

T2.3 Privacy-by-design and Value-Sensitive Design in social mining. This task studies the possible legal and ethical issues, such as privacy and discrimination, identifying effective legal and technical mechanisms to detect and measure privacy violations, discrimination and exclusion risks related to each analytical activity in the SoBigData infrastructure. 

T2.4 Intellectual property and data ownership framework.  Within this task the legal requirements concerning Intellectual property law are analyzed, starting with the question whether social media content can achieve Intellectual Property protection (“high level creativity”) and how such possible protected content can be shared in a (virtual) research environment for scientific purposes.

EU Project

See the websites for EU Projects 654024 and 871042 for more details

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