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Should researchers use data from security breaches?
Douglas D.  Communications of the ACM 62 (12): 22-24, 2019. Type: Article
Date Reviewed: Jul 30 2020

The use of data derived from publicly exposed and security loophole databases will continue to be a controversial subject of debate for legal scholars and information technology (IT) computing ethics specialists. Should computing research practitioners be more concerned about data originating from security infringements to lessen litigation against businesses? Without a doubt, this article compellingly argues in favor of new kinds of computing practices to balance the theory between practice and ethics.

Douglas clearly echoes the need for computing researchers to become more cognizant of the authenticity of data obtained from third parties, including whistleblowers and political advocates. But how should computing researchers, devoid of training in politics, become proficient in identifying whistleblowers and biased (politically motivated) data?

The author stunningly asserts that “computing researchers are not usually concerned with using data obtained by inflicting physical or psychological harm on human subjects.” Is this claim true at many research centers and academic research institutions worldwide? If so, what are research funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) doing to help eliminate this claimed defect? What are our academic research centers and institutions teaching students in computer ethics courses, to help resolve this crucial issue?

Douglas provides legal evidence, alerting computing researchers to forgo the use of illegal data in all scientific research. Clearly, computing researchers ought to be careful in handling and using potentially compromised data in scientific research. The author certainly alludes to the need to assess the risks of using data breaches, to help minimize the actual unforeseen security disasters. Statisticians must implement more reliable algorithms that will allow computing researchers to examine security risks based on reliable and unreliable qualitative and nonquantitative data.

Reviewer:  Amos Olagunju Review #: CR147027 (2012-0303)
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