Arvind Narayanan is a computer scientist at Princeton. He advised a Master’s thesis, described in Section 2, that utilized a similar methodology to the Encore project. Bendert Zevenbergen is a Ph.D candidate and researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute where he studies the intersection of law, ethics, social science, and the Internet. Along with a colleague at OII, he first brought certain ethical concerns to the Encore authors’ attention, resulting in a significant change to the design.
This case study, written for the Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society, is the result of a dialogue between Arvind Narayanan and Bendert Zevenbergen. It examines tricky ethical questions that arise when researchers co-opt Internet-connected devices as vantage points for data collection, without the knowledge or consent of the users of those devices.