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  1. We investigate the privacy practices of labor organizers in the computing technology industry and explore the changes in these practices as a response to remote work. Our study is situated at the intersection of two pivotal shifts in workplace dynamics: (a) the increase in online workplace communications due to remote work, and (b) the resurgence of the labor movement and an increase in collective action in workplaces— especially in the tech industry, where this phenomenon has been dubbed the tech worker movement. The shift of work-related communications to online digital platforms in response to an increase in remote work is creating new opportunities for and risks to the privacy of workers. These risks are especially significant for organizers of collective action, with several well-publicized instances of retaliation against labor organizers by companies. Through a series of qualitative interviews with 29 tech workers involved in collective action, we investigate how labor organizers assess and mitigate risks to privacy while engaging in these actions. Among the most common risks that organizers experienced are retaliation from their employer, lateral worker conflict, emotional burnout, and the possibility of information about the collective effort leaking to management. Depending on the nature and source of themore »risk, organizers use a blend of digital security practices and community-based mechanisms. We find that digital security practices are more relevant when the threat comes from management, while community management and moderation are central to protecting organizers from lateral worker conflict. Since labor organizing is a collective rather than individual project, individual privacy and collective privacy are intertwined, sometimes in conflict and often mutually constitutive. Notions of privacy that solely center individuals are often incompatible with the needs of organizers, who noted that safety in numbers could only be achieved when workers presented a united front to management. Based on our interviews, we identify key topics for future research, such as the growing prevalence of surveillance software and the needs of international and gig worker organizers. We conclude with design recommendations that can help create safer, more secure and more private tools to better address the risks that organizers face.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 31, 2023
  2. Many research communities routinely conduct activities that fall outside the bounds of traditional human subjects research, yet still frequently rely on the determinations of institutional review boards (IRBs) or similar regulatory bodies to scope ethical decision-making. Presented as a U.S. university-based fictional memo describing a post-hoc IRB review of a research study about social media and public health, this design fiction draws inspiration from current debates and uncertainties in the HCI and social computing communities around issues such as the use of public data, privacy, open science, and unintended consequences, in order to highlight the limitations of regulatory bodies as arbiters of ethics and the importance of forward-thinking ethical considerations from researchers and research communities.
  3. Purpose Existing algorithms for predicting suicide risk rely solely on data from electronic health records, but such models could be improved through the incorporation of publicly available socioeconomic data – such as financial, legal, life event and sociodemographic data. The purpose of this study is to understand the complex ethical and privacy implications of incorporating sociodemographic data within the health context. This paper presents results from a survey exploring what the general public’s knowledge and concerns are about such publicly available data and the appropriateness of using it in suicide risk prediction algorithms. Design/methodology/approach A survey was developed to measure public opinion about privacy concerns with using socioeconomic data across different contexts. This paper presented respondents with multiple vignettes that described scenarios situated in medical, private business and social media contexts, and asked participants to rate their level of concern over the context and what factor contributed most to their level of concern. Specific to suicide prediction, this paper presented respondents with various data attributes that could potentially be used in the context of a suicide risk algorithm and asked participants to rate how concerned they would be if each attribute was used for this purpose. Findings The authors foundmore »considerable concern across the various contexts represented in their vignettes, with greatest concern in vignettes that focused on the use of personal information within the medical context. Specific to the question of incorporating socioeconomic data within suicide risk prediction models, the results of this study show a clear concern from all participants in data attributes related to income, crime and court records, and assets. Data about one’s household were also particularly concerns for the respondents, suggesting that even if one might be comfortable with their own being used for risk modeling, data about other household members is more problematic. Originality/value Previous studies on the privacy concerns that arise when integrating data pertaining to various contexts of people’s lives into algorithmic and related computational models have approached these questions from individual contexts. This study differs in that it captured the variation in privacy concerns across multiple contexts. Also, this study specifically assessed the ethical concerns related to a suicide prediction model and determining people’s awareness of the publicness of select data attributes, as well as which of these data attributes generated the most concern in such a context. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to pursue this question.« less
  4. Machine learning datasets have elicited concerns about privacy, bias, and unethical applications, leading to the retraction of prominent datasets such as DukeMTMC, MS-Celeb-1M, and Tiny Images. In response, the machine learning community has called for higher ethical standards in dataset creation. To help inform these efforts, we studied three influential but ethically problematic face and person recognition datasets—Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW), MS-Celeb-1M, and DukeMTMC— by analyzing nearly 1000 papers that cite them. We found that the creation of derivative datasets and models, broader technological and social change, the lack of clarity of licenses, and dataset management practices can introduce a wide range of ethical concerns. We conclude by suggesting a distributed approach to harm mitigation that considers the entire life cycle of a dataset.
  5. The Negro Motorist Green Book was a tool used by the Black community to navigate systemic racism throughout the U.S. and around the world. Whether providing its users with safer roads to take or businesses that were welcoming to Black patrons, The Negro Motorist Green Book fostered pride and created a physical network of safe spaces within the Black community. Building a bridge between this artifact which served Black people for thirty years and the current moment, we explore Black Twitter as an online space where the Black community navigates identity, activism, racism, and more. Through interviews with people who engage with Black Twitter, we surface the benefits (such as community building, empowerment, and activism) and challenges (like dealing with racism, appropriation, and outsiders) on the platform, juxtaposing the Green Book as a historical artifact and Black Twitter as its contemporary counterpart. Equipped with these insights, we make suggestions including audience segmentation, privacy controls, and involving historically disenfranchised perspectives into the technological design process. These proposals have implications for the design of technologies that would serve Black communities by amplifying Black voices and bolstering work toward justice.
  6. Machine learning models are known to perpetuate and even amplify the biases present in the data. However, these data biases frequently do not become apparent until after the models are deployed. Our work tackles this issue and enables the preemptive analysis of large-scale datasets. REVISE (REvealing VIsual biaSEs) is a tool that assists in the investigation of a visual dataset, surfacing potential biases along three dimensions: (1) object-based, (2) person-based, and (3) geography-based. Object-based biases relate to the size, context, or diversity of the depicted objects. Person-based metrics focus on analyzing the portrayal of people within the dataset. Geography-based analyses consider the representation of different geographic locations. These three dimensions are deeply intertwined in how they interact to bias a dataset, and REVISE sheds light on this; the responsibility then lies with the user to consider the cultural and historical context, and to determine which of the revealed biases may be problematic. The tool further assists the user by suggesting actionable steps that may be taken to mitigate the revealed biases. Overall, the key aim of our work is to tackle the machine learning bias problem early in the pipeline. REVISE is available at this https URL
  7. Research using online datasets from social media platforms continues to grow in prominence, but recent research suggests that platform users are sometimes uncomfortable with the ways their posts and content are used in research studies. While previous research has suggested that a variety of contextual variables may influence this discomfort, such factors have yet to be isolated and compared. In this article, we present results from a factorial vignette survey of American Facebook users. Findings reveal that researcher domain, content type, purpose of data use, and awareness of data collection all impact respondents’ comfort—measured via judgments of acceptability and concern—with diverse data uses. We provide guidance to researchers and ethics review boards about the ways that user reactions to research uses of their data can serve as a cue for identifying sensitive data types and uses.
  8. Frequent public uproar over forms of data science that rely on information about people demonstrates the challenges of defining and demonstrating trustworthy digital data research practices. This paper reviews problems of trustworthiness in what we term pervasive data research: scholarship that relies on the rich information generated about people through digital interaction. We highlight the entwined problems of participant unawareness of such research and the relationship of pervasive data research to corporate datafication and surveillance. We suggest a way forward by drawing from the history of a different methodological approach in which researchers have struggled with trustworthy practice: ethnography. To grapple with the colonial legacy of their methods, ethnographers have developed analytic lenses and researcher practices that foreground relations of awareness and power. These lenses are inspiring but also challenging for pervasive data research, given the flattening of contexts inherent in digital data collection. We propose ways that pervasive data researchers can incorporate reflection on awareness and power within their research to support the development of trustworthy data science.
  9. Algorithmic impact assessments (AIA) are increasingly being proposed as a mechanism for algorithmic accountability. These assessments are seen as potentially useful for anticipating, avoiding, and mitigating the negative consequences of algorithmic decision-making systems (ADS). At the same time, what an AIA would entail remains under-specified. While promising, AIAs raise as many questions as they answer. Choices about the methods, scope, and purpose of impact assessments structure the possible governance outcomes. Decisions about what type of effects count as an impact, when impacts are assessed, whose interests are considered, who is invited to participate, who conducts the assessment, the public availability of the assessment, and what the outputs of the assessment might be all shape the forms of accountability that AIA proponents seek to encourage. These considerations remain open, and will determine whether and how AIAs can function as a viable governance mechanism in the broader algorithmic accountability toolkit, especially with regard to furthering the public interest. Because AlAs are still an incipient governance strategy, approaching them as social constructions that do not require a single or universal approach offers a chance to produce interventions that emerge from careful deliberation.