Sharing linked data sets for research: results from a deliberative public engagement event in British Columbia, Canada

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Jack Teng Colene Bentley Michael M Burgess Kieran C O'Doherty Kimberlyn M McGrail
Published online: May 7, 2019

Research using linked data sets can lead to new insights and discoveries that positively impact society. However, the use of linked data raises concerns relating to illegitimate use, privacy, and security (e.g., identity theft, marginalization of some groups). It is increasingly recognized that the public needs to be consulted to develop data access systems that consider both the potential benefits and risks of research. Indeed, there are examples of data sharing projects being derailed because of backlash in the absence of adequate consultation. (e.g., in the UK).

Objectives and methods
This paper describes the results of a public deliberation event held in April 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The purpose of this event was to develop informed and civic-minded public advice regarding the use and the sharing of linked data for research with a focus on the processes and regulations employed to release data. The event brought together 23 members of the public over two weekends.

Participants developed and voted on 19 policy-relevant statements. Voting results and the rationale behind any disagreements are reported here. Taken together, these statements provide a broad view of public support and concerns regarding the use of linked data sets for research and offer guidance on measures that can be taken to improve the trustworthiness of policies and process around data sharing and use.

Generally, participants were supportive of research using linked data because of the value they provide to society. Participants expressed a desire to see the data access request process made more efficient to facilitate more research, as long as there are adequate protections in place around security and privacy of the data.

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