Journal Article

Developing Ethical Approaches to Data and Civil Society: From Availability to Accessibility

Published 6 December 2014 / By Evan Easton-Calabria, William Allen

Back to Publications

This research note reflects on the gaps and limitations confronting the development of ethical principles regarding the accessibility of large-scale data for civil society organizations (CSOs). Drawing upon a systematic scoping study on the use of data in the United Kingdom (UK) civil society, it finds that there are twin needs to conceptualize accessibility as more than mere availability of data, as well as examine the use of data among CSOs more generally. In order to deal with the apparent “digital divide” in UK civil society – where, despite extensive government rhetoric about data openness, organizations face not only the barriers of limited time, funds, and expertise to harness data but also the lack of representation within existing data – we present a working model in which ethical concerns accompanying data utilization by civil society may be better accounted. This suggests there is a need for further research into the nexus of civil society and data upon which interdisciplinary discussion about the ethical dimensions of engagement with data, particularly informed by insight from the social sciences, can be predicated.


Easton-Calabria, E. and Allen, W. (2015) 'Developing Ethical Approaches to Data and Civil Society: From Availability to Accessibility', Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 28(1): 52-62 [OPEN ACCESS]