Cross-sectoral big data: The application of an ethics framework for big data in health and research

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Discussion of uses of biomedical data often proceeds on the assumption that the data are generated and shared solely or largely within the health sector. However, this assumption must be challenged because increasingly large amounts of health and well-being data are being gathered and deployed in cross-sectoral contexts such as social media and through the internet of (medical) things and wearable devices. Cross-sectoral sharing of data thus refers to the generation, use and linkage of biomedical data beyond the health sector. This paper considers the challenges that arise from this phenomenon. If we are to benefit fully, it is important to consider which ethical values are at stake and to reflect on ways to resolve emerging ethical issues across ecosystems where values, laws and cultures might be quite distinct. In considering such issues, this paper applies the deliberative balancing approach of the Ethics Framework for Big Data in Health and Research (Xafis et al.2019) to the domain of cross-sectoral big data. Please refer to that article for more information on how this framework is to be used, including a full explanation of the key values involved and the balancing approach used in the case study at the end.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Bioethics Review
Early online date1 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2019


  • big data
  • big data ethics
  • cross-sectoral
  • data linkage
  • smart cities

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