Legal Meeting on Ethics and Data Protection at TCD

On February 20th 2015 Trinity College Dublin organised a legal round-table meeting with the Usability Sub-committee, hosted in The Irish School of Ecumenics, TCD. The sub-committee invited two legal experts to attend and take part in a discussion about the legal and ethical implications of using social media as a tool in disaster response: Rob Corbet, Partner, Head of Technology and Innovation at Arthur Cox, Dublin, and Emanuele Sommario, Assistant Professor of International Law at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa, Italy.

Rob Corbet and Emanuele Sommario during the discussion, with partners on Skype joined behind both speakers

Rob Corbet and Emanuele Sommario during the discussion, with partners on Skype joined behind both speakers

The round-table meeting included a presentation by Dr. Sommario on the implications of governance in state of exception situations. Dr. Sommario gave examples of case studies where preparedness was an issue, and where states acted legitimately or illegitimately in protecting their populations in situations of natural disaster.

This was followed by a round-table discussion, where project partners, in attendance in person or via Skype, asked questions that drew out a discussion on both the legal aspects of data capture, and the legal and ethical aspects of emergency management. The results were added to project documents. The key findings of the day showed that our current methods of data capture and storage are in safe legal and ethical grounds, and both legal experts commented on how the emphasis on legal and ethical concerns is commendable in this project.

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Key areas that were and found and that will be incorporated into the project are the importance of putting in place adequate data security measures, that data collected should not be excessive, and that trust in the data controller is key, but this should be monitored independently through a logging system. These suggestions were included in the initial guidelines for harvesting data, and are being incorporated in the technical construction of Slándáil prototypes.

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