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Dear Brian,

Ethically, every study participant must be prevented from harm (or at minimum that the potential harm be overbalanced by greater benefit).  A primary way to do this is by informed consent.  Thus, each participant can protect themselves.  NIH guidelines emphasize this. 

In addition, according to the Common Rule that applies to NIH as well as NIJ, third parties about whom you collect identifiable information are human subjects who need to be protected, including by informed consent.  However, IRBs have the right, included in the regulations, to grant waivers of informed consent.  I have succeeded in training my IRBs in these regulations.  So if you can convince the IRB that you can maintain the confidentiality of those about whom you learn identifiable information, the problem can be solved.

Dave
====================================
David C. Bell
Professor of Sociology
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
(317) 278-1336
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On Feb 11, 2011, at 11:25 AM, Brian Ulicny wrote:

> ***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** Hello, Socnet.
> 
> I'm looking for advice on dealing with Privacy Certificates.
> 
> http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/funding/humansubjects/privacy-certificate-guidance.htm
> 
> The National Institute of Justice requires a Privacy Certificate for research that says, in part:
> 
> Private persons from whom identifiable data are obtained or collected will be advised either orally or in writing that the data will only be used for research and statistical purposes and that compliance with requests for information is not mandatory. That is, participation in the research is voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time. If the notification requirement is to be waived, an explanation must be contained within the Privacy Certificate.
> 
> It would seem to me, then, that if you were using, say, constructing a social network from Twitter data, you would be obliged to contact every Twitter user with identifiable information in the network you extracted to advise them that they could opt out of your research.  Additionally, if they MENTION another private individual, you would have to contact them, too.
> 
> Am I reading this correctly?
> 
> Any suggestions or resources I could consult on dealing with this kind of thing?
> 
> I am a researcher at a small, private research company that does social media research, usually via government grants.
> 
> Best,
> 
> Brian Ulicny
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