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November 2 Tuesday

Fallout from the Facebook Files: A New Belmont Commission and Changing Models for Informed Consent, April Doss, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Technology Law and Policy

  • Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at 12:00PM - 1:30PM
  • Online
  • Open To The Public
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Description

Recent allegations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen highlighted a range of serious concerns regarding the data use practices of one of the world's largest technology companies.  Among these were revelations regarding Facebook's internal research on the effects of its social media platforms on the mental health of children and teens, which concluded that Instagram exacerbated a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation; and that the company was aware of changes it could make to the platforms’ functions that might alleviate those concerns, but chose not to make those changes for fear that the modifications could reduce user engagement online and therefore have a detrimental effect on platform usage and corporate profits over time.

These allegations revive longstanding and profound concerns about the lack of an enforceable ethics framework for data-driven companies performing social science research and experiments on unwitting users. They also lend new urgency to the search for meaningful legal standards and the need for legal redress for the worst abuses. 

In a forthcoming article, Doss examines several distinct frameworks that could be applied, including extension of the Belmont Report’s principles to online data research by private companies; reframing traditional approaches to notice-and-consent to arrive at more meaningful standards for “informed” consent; forming new select Congressional committees empowered to review data-related issues that cut across the jurisdictional divides of existing committee frameworks; enactment of legislation to establish a new blue ribbon commission to develop binding ethical rules for private sector companies engaging in research and experimentation based on information relating to their users; and calls for input for an Internet User’s Data Science Bill of Rights.

April Falcon Doss is the Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Technology Law and Policy and author of the award-winning book “Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care.”  Before coming to Georgetown, April spent over a decade at the National Security Agency, where she managed operational programs and technology innovation efforts, was posted overseas as a foreign liaison officer, and served as the Associate General Counsel for Intelligence Law. She served as Senior Minority Counsel for the Russia Investigation in the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and she was a partner and chair of the cybersecurity and privacy practice at a major U.S. law firm.  She’s a regular commentator on issues relating to national security, cybersecurity, data privacy, and emerging technologies.  April has appeared on outlets including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and CBC, and her articles have appeared in a range of publications including The Atlantic, The Weekly Standard, Lawfare, Bustle, Just Security, and the Washington Post.  She’s on Twitter @AprilFDoss. 

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