[Air-L] Ethics of using hacked data.
alexleavitt at gmail.com
Wed Oct 7 14:29:47 PDT 2015
A similar case study might be the history of the ENRON email data set. It
went through multiple iterations of availability and takedowns as it was
slowly edited over time to remove emails. People still use it as a
canonical dataset, but it is certainly still controversial, and especially
was when it was first made available.
USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Twitter: @alexleavitt <http://twitter.com/alexleavitt>
On Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 1:54 PM, Peter Timusk <peterotimusk at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think one could look a little at the consequences of what you are doing.
> Seems you are trying to make money by researching funding data is that
> right? I find that unethical but I find all kinds of data mining unethical.
> There are reasons to use your same skill sets that could benefit society.
> May be I don't understand what your end result is about.
> Peter Timusk
> peterotimusk at gmail.com
> I do not speak for my employer or charities or political parties or unions
> I volunteer with or belong to, unless otherwise noted.
> > On Oct 7, 2015, at 4:11 PM, Nathaniel Poor <natpoor at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hello list-
> > I recently got into a discussion with a colleague about the ethics of
> > hacked data, specifically the Patreon hacked data (see here:
> > ).
> > He and I do crowdfunding work, and had wanted to look at Patreon, but as
> > far as I can tell they have no easy hook into all their projects (for
> > scraping), so, to me this data hack was like a gift! But he said there
> > no way we could use it. We aren't doing sentiment analysis or anything,
> > would use aggregated measures like funding levels and then report things
> > like means and maybe a regression, so there would be no identifiable
> > information whatsoever derived from the hacked data in any of our
> > work (we might go to the site and pull some quotes).
> > I looked at the AoIR ethics guidelines (
> > ), and didn't see anything specifically about hacked data (I don't think
> > "hacked" is the best word, but I don't like "stolen" either, but those
> > different discussions).
> > One relevant line I noticed was this one:
> > "If access to an online context is publicly available, do
> > members/participants/authors
> > perceive the context to be public?" (p. 8)
> > So, the problem with the data is that it's the entire website, so some
> > private and some was public, but now it's all public and everyone knows
> > it's public.
> > To me, I agree that a lot of the data in the data-dump had been intended
> > be private -- apparently, direct messages are in there -- but we wouldn't
> > use that data (it's not something we're interested in). We'd use data
> > number of funders and funding levels and then aggregate everything. I see
> > that some of it was meant to be private, but given the entire site was
> > hacked and exported I don't see how currently anyone could have an
> > expectation of privacy any more. I'm not trying to torture the
> > it's just that it was private until it wasn't.
> > I can see that some academic researchers -- at least those in computer
> > security -- would be interested in this data and should be able to
> > in peer reviewed journals about it, in an anonymized manner (probably as
> > example of "here's a data hack like what we are talking about, here's
> > hackers released").
> > I also think that probably every script kiddie has downloaded the data,
> > has every grey and black market email list spammer, and probably every
> > botnet purveyor (for passwords) and maybe even the hacking arm of the
> > Chinese army and the NSA. My point here is that if we were to use the
> > in academic research we wouldn't be publicizing it to nefarious people
> > would misuse it since all of those people already have it. We could maybe
> > help people who want to use crowdfunding some (hopefully!) if we have
> > results. (I guess I don't see that we would be doing any harm by using
> > So, what do people think? Did I miss something in the AoIR guidelines? I
> > realize I don't think it's clear either way, or I wouldn't be asking, so
> > probably the answers will point to this as a grey area (so why do I even
> > ask, I am not sure).
> > But I'm not looking for "You can't use it because it's hacked," because I
> > don't think that explains anything. I could counter that with "It is
> > publicly available found data," because it is, although I don't think
> > that's the best reply either. Both lack nuance.
> > -Nat
> > --
> > Nathaniel Poor, Ph.D.
> > http://natpoor.blogspot.com
> > _______________________________________________
> > The Air-L at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
> > is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
> > Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at:
> > Join the Association of Internet Researchers:
> > http://www.aoir.org/
> The Air-L at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
> is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
> Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at:
> Join the Association of Internet Researchers:
More information about the Air-L