The ethics of big data

February 20, 2014

Sir John Savill exposes the moral bankruptcy of those UK research funders who object to proposed European legislation on personal data (“Data privacy change could be a bitter pill”, News, 13 February). The cost of automation to seek informed consent for each study is a drop in the ocean compared with what is spent on medical research equipment in genomics and other areas.

The primary issue is not privacy but rather others’ use of a human being for whatever purpose. Who are the funders to override ethical imperatives? Why is an agency of an elected government so set on stealing from the personal lives of its citizens? International standards of research have required participants in medical research to be recruited via their GPs. The admirable vision of the UK leading in long-term scientific research into healthcare is at dire risk from outdated information management and, perhaps, fears of being found out.

David Booth
University of Birmingham

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study