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Evelyn Ruppert: Citizen data app

Photo: Andreea M. Belu

The first keynote of the European Data Ethics Forum was Evelyn Ruppert, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her talk focused on the ways in which statistics make sense of society, new paradigms of rethinking citizen data and broadening the notion of ethics.

Evelyn’s object of study revolves around how governments and statistics are changing in relation to new digital technology and big data, as well as the way this relation affects the bridge between citizens and their governments. As part of her research, Evelyn focuses on experimenting with the rights-claiming citizen as a way of avoiding a future that does not rely on our agency or capacity to intervene.

The first project she talked about is a 5 year project funded by the European Research Council – Peopling Europe: How Data make a people. The project looks at how big data affects the way we are governed and how we participate or not, as citizens, in this governance process. Evelyn proposes a new paradigm of producing data. She talked about models of co-production as a way of generating big data with citizens as active participants.

Photo: Daniel Aasdal Clark

The 2nd project mentioned involved the generation of a social framework for big data. In this respect, data is seen as social ownership, where sharing, collaboration and cooperative possibilities are key values involved in data generation. Moreover, data storage and curation is perceived as a social resource as opposed to the view that data is a natural resource (something to be mined/the new oil)

Evelyn also touched upon broadening of the notion of ethics. She suggested that ethics can be seen as the right to be active in the making and shaping of data through which knowledge about us is generated.

Watch Evelyn Ruppert’s full presentation here.

Watch the rest of European Data Ethics Forum talks here.