[A2k] Crowdsourcing data collection and Privacy

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Mon Apr 27 10:09:29 PDT 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bob Gellman <bob at bobgellman.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 10:02 AM
Subject: [priv_coal] Crowdsourcing and Privacy
To: privacy at democraticmedia.org, Privacy Coalition <Priv_coal at epic.org>

 The Commons Lab at the Woodrow Wilson Center just published my report
titled:  *Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science, and the Law: Legal Issues
Affecting Federal Agencies*.  You can learn more and download the report at


I'm circulating this note to the privacy community because crowdsourcing
has some privacy issues associated with it. Because this report focuses on
federal agencies, those issues mostly arise in connection with the Privacy
Act of 1974.  I just wanted everyone to be aware generally about this, and
I certainly don't expect (or even advise) people to read the whole

Crowdsourcing and citizen science involve broad collaborations with the
public to accomplish a wide variety of tasks, including data collection,
research, data interpretation, problem solving, and other tasks.  Federal
agencies increasingly use crowdsourcing to accomplish agency goals and
serve the public.

The federal government often operates under different laws than other
organizations.  That means that federal crowdsourcing and citizen science
activities are subject to a unique set of constraints.  The laws that
affect federal agencies are the focus of the report.  Laws most relevant
include the Paperwork Reduction Act, Information Quality Act,
Antideficiency Act, and Privacy Act of 1974.  The report discusses all of
these statutes as well as other relevant rules (e.g., the Common Rule for
the protection of human subjects of research).  Agencies seeking to engage
in crowdsourcing and citizen science activities can satisfy all legal and
regulatory requirements with reasonable efforts and due diligence.  There
are no impenetrable barriers.
The new report bears some relation to a report that I did in 2013 for the
Woodrow Wilson Center with Professor Joel Reidenberg of Fordham Law School
and others.  That report is *Privacy and Missing Persons after Natural
Disasters*.  You can learn more and download this report at
.  The connection between the two reports is that some missing persons
activities use crowdsourcing as a method of collecting or sharing


+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ Robert Gellman       <bob at bobgellman.com> <bob at bobgellman.com> +
+ Privacy and Information Policy Consultant +
+ 419 Fifth Street SE                       +
+ Washington, DC 20003                      +
+ 202-543-7923           www.bobgellman.com +
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James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile:
+41.76.413.6584, twitter.com/jamie_love

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