Matthew Bietz, assistant researcher in the Department of Informatics, is UCI's principal investigator on the project.

From mobile phone applications to website search engines, wearable technology to social platforms, consumer data has become highly obtainable and trackable. The result is an ethically questionable free-for-all in research and marketing, but consumers aren’t the only ones concerned about how their personal information is being collected and utilized. UCI is one of six institutions involved in the four-year Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research project, which recently received $3 million from the National Science Foundation. Collaborators are from the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Colorado, Boulder; the Data & Society Research Institute; Princeton University; and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. UCI principal investigator Matthew Bietz, assistant informatics researcher in the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, will lead a team exploring how those who create pervasive data – through social media, fitness trackers, etc. – feel about it being used in research. The group will also focus on how vulnerable populations are affected. “Big data has the potential to transform our understanding of human behavior and health,” Bietz said. “We want to ensure that this research is conducted ethically and in line with individuals’ expectations.”