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Digital Data In Social Science Research: Legal And Ethical Concerns


Digital Data In Social Science Research: Legal And Ethical Concerns

In the digital age, we interact less with people directly as it has been replaced by computer-mediated communication. The growing range of digital devices as well as the extensive use of social media platforms for internet-based research have highlighted the inadequacy of the traditional governance framework and risk mitigation strategies in protecting the rights of research participants and minimizing harm to them. In view of these challenges, the need to educate researchers on the legal and ethical aspects of digital research practice is warranted to uphold the privacy of participants and to protect their rights. It is equally important for researchers to understand how the legal and ethical considerations are translated into actual research practices in the digital context. This webinar, jointly organized by the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI), the University of Malaya Research Ethics Committee (UMREC) and the Centre for Law and Ethics in Science and Technology (CELEST), aims to address the legal and ethical issues in digital research in the social and behavioral domain. Its main focus is on the areas of cyber risk and security, data privacy and protection, and copyright protection.

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Prof. Datin Dr. Sameem Abdul Kareem
Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, Universiti Malaya
Dr. Tee Meng Yew
Faculty of Education, Universiti Malaya


Dr. Sharon Kaur A/P Gurmukh Singh
Chair, Centre for Law and Ethics in Science and Technology (CELEST)
• Closing speech

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Profiles & Abstracts

Title Cyber Risks and Security in the Era of Digital Transformation: How Well are We Protected?

Speaker Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chiew Thiam Kian

Profile Chiew Thiam Kian joined University of Malaya as a Lecturer at Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology in 2000. He was promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer in 2010 and subsequently Associate Professor in 2015. He was the Industrial Training Coordinator from 2008 to 2012 and Industrial Relation Coordinator from 2013 to 2016 for the Faculty. He headed the Software Engineering and Innovation Research Group from July 2011 to December 2012. He was the Deputy Dean for Postgraduate Studies of the Faculty from August 2016 until October 2019. He received the Excellent Service Awards in 2013, 2017 and Excellent Service Certificates in 2011 and 2014 from the University. In 2012, he initiated a project for building a mobile application to allow diabetic patients to self-monitor their blood glucose. In 2014, another project to build a hospital queue management system was carried out. Currently, a project investigating usability of mobile applications for pain management among elderly is undergoing. In 2020, during the outbreak of Covid-19 worldwide, he collaborated with a team of researchers from Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Malaya to develop COvid-19 Symptoms Monitoring System (CoSMoS). CoSMoS is an online system that helps patients suspected of Covid-19 infection to report their daily symptoms.

Abstract We are living in two worlds nowadays – the physical world and the cyber world. While security is equally important in both worlds, security threats come in different forms in both worlds. In this talk, I will explain several types of security threats in the cyber world and measures to counter the threats. Technological and human aspects of cyber security will also be discussed.

Title Ethical Concerns In Digital Data Research

Speaker Asst. Prof. Dr. G. Owen Schaefer

Profile Dr. G. Owen Schaefer is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He received his DPhil in Philosophy from Oxford University, and has completed fellowships at the National Institutes of Health’s Department of Bioethics and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. His primary interests lie in the ethics of developing novel biomedical technologies. He has written on big data, research ethics, the obligation to participate in research, human enhancement, gene testing and editing, assisted reproduction and in vitro meat.

Abstract In the era of big data, existing research paradigms of consent and anonymisation to protect participants’ interests are showing their limits. Researchers, ethics committees, oversight bodies and regulators need to attend to emerging nuances in a systematic, justifiable and accountable manner. Here, I will present the Ethics Framework for Big Data in Health and Research, developed under the Science, Health and Policy-relevant Ethics in Singapore (SHAPES) initiative. The framework is meant to assist those stakeholders in navigating the tradeoffs between different values that often arise in the context of big data research. This presentation will include a topical case study applying the framework to research on digital contact tracing tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Title Personal Data and Related Issues in Research

Speaker Dr. Izura Masdina binti Mohamed Zakri

Profile Dr Izura Masdina binti Mohamed Zakri is a senior lecturer at the Law Faculty, University of Malaya where she teaches the Law of Contract and Cyberlaw. She is a deputy editor of the Faculty of Law's journal, the Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law (JMCL) and the E-learning coordinator for the Faculty of Law. Dr. Izura's research interest relates to the Internet and how the current laws can be used to address the legal issues which arise from it. She has co-authored three books, entitled “Introduction to Cyberlaw of Malaysia” (2004), “ICT: its Impact on Selected Areas of the Law” (2009) and ‘Emerging Technologies in Malaysia and ASEAN: Selected Legal and Policy Issues’ (2019). Currently, she is researching on the cyber courts of Malaysia.

Abstract In collecting and processing data, one of the main issues is knowing how to deal with such personal data. This is an overview of some of the major concepts of data protection and privacy in research such as in the collection, storage, protection, retention and destruction of personal data. It will focus on Malaysia’ Personal Data Protection Act 2010 and some references will be made to international data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Title Doing Research In The Digital Age: Copyright Concerns And Limitations

Speaker Dr. Sik Cheng Peng

Profile Dr Sik Cheng Peng holds a doctoral degree in law from the University of Malaya. Her PhD thesis examined the copyright issues arising in the digital environment with a focus on whether copyright law holds a balance between copyright owners’ interests and the public interest in addressing the issues. She is an academic at Faculty of Law, University of Malaya and has been teaching copyright law for many years. In 2019, she was appointed as the Deputy Director of University of Malaya Centre of Innovation and Commercialization (UMCIC). Her responsibilities at the Centre, which is the university’s technology transfer office, include managing the university’s intellectual property portfolio. Dr Sik has been actively researching intellectual property rights, particularly the emerging copyright issues relating to the latest technological developments such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Her research writings have been published in various forms including journal articles, book chapters, and books.

Abstract While copyright law encourages the creation of more new works and thus dissemination of information and knowledge by offering authors some exclusive rights over their creations, it may at the same time impose limitations and obstacles to achieving the same. The restraints may be even more prevalent in the digital environment. This talk provides an overview of the copyright concerns relating to using copyrighted materials in the digital age, particularly the restrictions under copyright law that one may encounter in the process of conducting research.

For more detail, please contact
Ms Aufzalina at 03-79676289 or umrec@um.edu.my

Last Updated: 12/08/2020