University of Maryland

Pervasive Data Ethics

The project’s website is

Katie Shilton, myself, and five other colleagues at other institutions were awarded a NSF Large grant (“CHS: Large: Collaborative Research: Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research) in summer 2017. The four-year project promotes promotes the progress of science and technology development by providing the empirical knowledge needed to advance fair, just computational research. For the official NSF award, click here.

Prior Work: Attitudes & Behaviors Toward Social Computing Ethics

With the increasing popularity of mediated communication and the relatively easy access  to large collections of user data, social computing, HCI, and other researchers face new challenges to ensuring the data they collect and analyze is done so ethically.

Katie Shilton, Jessica Vitak, and Zahra Ashktorab collected survey data from (1) researchers in academia and industry who work with online digital traces and (2) IRBs at research institutions in the U.S. to understand the attitudes toward and practices employed when collecting online data and to identify disconnects between researchers and IRBs regarding best ethical practices.

The first paper from this data collection was published at CSCW 2016 and can be accessed here. The second paper was recently accepted by the Journal of Research Ethics and will be posted once published.

  • Recent News

    April  2023: Our qualitative study of power users’ approach to managing their smart home ecosystems was accepted to CSCW 2023 (PDF forthcoming).

    April 2023: Vitak and Zimmer (along with Yaxing Yao & Danny Huang) were awarded a $600k grant from NSF to study privacy mitigations in smart environments.

    March 2023: “When research is the context: Cross-platform user expectations for social media data reuse” was published in Big Data & Society.

    March 2023: “Power, stress, and uncertainty: Experiences with and attitudes toward workplace surveillance during a pandemic” was published in Surveillance & Society.

    March 2023: Vitak & Shilton shared recent PERVADE work on “The Discussion Section” podcast.

    Jan 2023: Vitak gave the keynote at a Privacy Day event at Maquette University (“Reimagining Data Collection and Use in the Age of Smart Devices”).

    Jan 2023: “When Do Data Collection and Use Become a Matter of Concern? A Cross-Cultural Comparison of U.S. and Dutch Privacy Attitudes” was published in IJoC.

    Dec 2022: Vitak gave the closing keynote at the MD Tech Connect conference (“School and Library Programming to Teach Children Basic Privacy and Security Concepts”).