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Ethics and privacy of big data use for migration research

Oct 07 2021 - Oct 08 2021

Ethics and privacy of big data use for migration research

This online workshop 'Ethics of big data for migration research' will be organised by the HumMingBird consortium (Enhanced Migration Measures from a Multidimensional Perspective, H2020 project - GA 870661), the SoBigData++ consortium (European Integrated Infrastructure for Social Mining and Big Data Analytics, H2020 Project - GA 871042) and the IMISCOE Meth@Mig (Methodological Approaches and Tools in Migration Research) standing committee.

The concept of big data is gaining popularity with respect to every aspect of life given the influence of technology on individuals and governance. Big data applications have been used widely for commercial purposes and for scientific use, several methodologies are adopted for various disciplines. Nevertheless, migration research has only recently adopted the possibility of big data use for studying human mobility. Analytical methods and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms required to extract meaningful insights from big data and transform these data into 'value' (De Maura et al., 2016) and several studies and projects have demonstrated that big data technologies are novel sources to develop proxies and indicators for migration (Dijstelbloem 2017; Zagheni et al., 2017; Spyratos et al., 2019; Böhme, et al., 2020; IOM, 2020). Along with the opportunities of the use of big data for migration research, concerns with ethical and secure data collection, privacy-preserving and human-rights-compliant data usage and unintended consequences of AI algorithms have been brought up regularly (Dignum, 2018; Floridi et al., 2018; McGregor et al., 2019; Molnar, 2019; Beduschi, 2020). Hence, with this workshop they intend to provide the space to reflect on ethical implications of big data use in migration research in a more systematic way.

Issues surrounding privacy, data protection and confidentiality continue to pose risks and challenges to researchers. In 2018, the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation. However, how regulations and machine learning will come together in the future is still a question to be answered. Big data research is still new to or out of the mandate of universities’ ethical boards. It is essential for migration research and scholars, where AI technologies with Big Data are involved, to ensure that privacy principles are respected, and ethical considerations are made to ensure Big Data does not adversely affect the human rights of migrants in accordance with international law.

Consequently, this workshop aims at bringing together researchers and practitioners from various disciplines and sectors who work on theoretical, philosophical, legal and ethical aspects of big data possibly with a focus on migration; big data and new technologies for migration studies; real-life applications and socio-political consequences of big data and AI employment for migration to discuss and present their experience, knowledge and research on the topic. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as work on tools and frameworks are welcome.


Online, Microsoft Teams