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Digital humanities: humanities research in the digital age
Digital humanities: humanities research in the digital age

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3.2 Primum non nocere: a primer on data ethics and personal data regulations

Now that you know what, where and how data was collected and wrangled, if you have not done it before, this is a good time to think carefully about ethics and data privacy. Collecting digital data about Charles Darwin’s personal connections and other deceased historical figures, for example, does not present many ethical challenges and they are not live data subjects according to GDPR. Providing we respect the intellectual property of the digital archive and respective licences attached to the data we are collecting, there is no danger of harming Darwin or any of his correspondents by exposing the personal data found in their letters. The same does not necessarily apply, however, to the collection of digital data that contain information on living humans, such as social media data available on the internet as you saw in Session 2 this week.