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The dynamics of big data and human rights: The case of scientific research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Effy Vayena, John Tasioulas

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160129
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
Issue number2083
Early online date14 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2016


King's Authors


In this paper, we address the complex relationship between big data and human rights. Because this is a vast terrain, we restrict our focus in two main ways. First, we concentrate on big data applications in scientific research, mostly health-related research. And, second, we concentrate on two human rights: the familiar right to privacy and the less wellknown right to science. Our contention is that human rights interact in potentially complex ways with big data, not only constraining it, but also enabling it in various ways; and that such rights are dynamic in character, rather than fixed once and for all, changing in their implications over time in line with changes in the context we inhabit, and also as they interact among themselves in jointly responding to the opportunities and risks thrown up by a changing world. Understanding this dynamic interaction of human rights is crucial for formulating an ethic tailored to the realities-the new capabilities and risks-of the rapidly evolving digital environment. This article is part of the themed issue 'The ethical impact of data science'.

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