Parliamentary Select Committee: Social Media data and real time analytics

KMi’s Dr Mathieu d’Aquin gave evidence on behalf of the OU to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee at an oral evidence session on Monday 23 June. The session formed part of the Committee’s inquiry into Social media data and real time analytics launched earlier this year.

Dr d’Aquin was joined in front of the select committee today by a number of expert witnesses providing oral evidence to follow up and clarify their written submissions: 

  • Professor Derek McAuley, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, 
  • Professor David De Roure, Director, Economic and Social Research Council
  • Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Web Science Trust
  • Professor Liesbet van Zoonen, Loughborough University, 
  • Professor David Robertson, UK Computing Research Committee, 
  • Emma Carr, Big Brother Watch

The OU has a long track record of research expertise in this area and KMi demonstrated this in a written submission to the inquiry, made in March by the Government and External Affairs (GEA) team.  The OU received an invitation to give oral evidence based on that response. Today’s session, held at Westminster (in the Thatcher Room), focused on how the relationship between the Government and public needs to develop in the digital age.

Dr d’Aquin’s evidence emphasised the need for government policy to support and extend research value in this field, and not just be driven by an understandable, but unhelpful, fear of the power of real time analytics. Employees need to see the data that employers have on them. "Even in our early research," said Dr d’Aquin "we have found that employees are actually quite reassured. Knowing that data is collected, it is incredibly valuable to be able to see it." Policymakers need to understand this and ensure that there are mechanisms in place to support this, and guidelines to enforce it. "Transparent trustability is critical here. It is very important to give back the data to the citizen that is collected about them," he concluded.    

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