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The ethics of recording users' computer behaviour

There will be a GIST discussion on Thur 19 April 2001, 4pm, conference room (F121), 17 Lilybank Gardens. (How to get there.)

Title: "The ethics of recording users' computer behaviour"
Organiser: Steve Draper
Discussion led by: Henriikka Clarkeburn her PhD thesis.


It is becoming ever easier to record users' behaviour on computers, and there may be reasons why this is useful to the users or to others. The question to be discussed here is what are the ethical issues around this area.

We shall begin with a specific case: recording students' behaviour during a short research project, undertaken within the GRUMPS project. Technology may be able to contribute to the solution too e.g.

Henriikka Clarkeburn has taught courses in Bioethics: another case of sensitising scientists to the ethical issues with their work, and helping them to reason about that. She will chair and contribute to the discussion.

You may like to read the Feb. 2001 issue of CACM (Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery) which also deals with this area.

You may also like to look at these sites about data recording, suggested by Henriikka:


    Steve Draper's provisional notes and views are at:

    Possible structure

  • Phil Gray: 5 mins summarising the specific two cases in the current GRUMPS project study that pose potential ethical problems.
  • Julie Cargill: 3 mins on the ethics problems as perceived / raised by students
  • Steve Draper: 5 mins on possible principles, and possible technical "solutions" e.g. making monitoring visible vs. getting an acknowledged disclaimer every time they login vs. doing it anyway and arguing its university property and they shouldn't be doing private stuff vs. ....
  • Henriikka: Her views on the problem as stated, and reasoning about solutions to it.
  • Everyone: general discussion.

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