Blog Post

Webinar: Balancing Citizen Science Data Collection Needs and Privacy Protections

Date: Friday, January 24, 2019, from 1:00 PM to 2:15 PM EST
Register here: 

The Law and Policy Working Group will be presenting another webinar in their ongoing series. This webinar will focus on privacy and citizen science.

Privacy discussions tend to revolve around the implications of passive collection of individuals’ data. What is often overlooked, however, is the different phenomenon of the active sharing of data within the framework of Citizen Science projects. Starting from this premise, this webinar will explore  – from the perspectives of academic researchers, practitioners, and project leaders – what are the challenges of meeting data collection needs while protecting participant privacy. What policies and best practices are needed? From theory and practice, we will reflect on how to ensure that Citizen Science stays ‘privacy fit’ while expanding its outreach, impact and potential.


  • Dr. Lea Shanley, Senior Fellow, Nelson Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Advisor, SciStarter; and Steering Committee, CSA Law and Policy Working Group (Moderator)
  • Bob Gellman, JD, Independent Scholar and Privacy and Information Policy Consultant 
  • Anna Berti Suman, JD, PhD researcher at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society; visiting researcher at the European Commission JRC; Member of the CSA Law and Policy Working Group
  • Daniel Susser, PhD, Assistant professor in the College of Information Sciences & Technology and Research Associate in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State University
  • Kyle Copas, Communications manager, GBIF Secretariat | Global Biodiversity Information Facility; current chair, ECSA open science working group

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @CitSciAssoc and using hashtags #CitSciPolicy and #CitSci

Presenter Bios:

Kyle Copas is communications manager for GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—a network and open data research infrastructure with a secretariat based in Copenhagen. He has often managed issues of intellectual property, licensing and privacy working primarily in the fields of sustainable design, conservation and biodiversity informatics. He currently oversees outreach and engagement with GBIF’s stakeholders and audiences, including a network of more than 1,500 institutions from 130 countries, islands and territories. In addition to leading GBIF’s analysis of citizen science contributions to international biodiversity monitoring, he directed its response to GDPR and is helping the network to implement best practices for processing the ‘ordinary’ personally identifiable information embedded in biodiversity data.

See also:

Twitter: @kylecopas

Robert Gellman, JD, Privacy and Information Policy Consultant, has been involved in privacy policy for over 40 years. As a consultant, Bob helps clients to do the right thing with personal data that they process. He was staff to a House of Representatives Subcommittee for 17 years and served a term as a member of the HHS advisory committee on vital and health statistics (NCVHS). On citizen science, Bob wrote a report for the Woodrow Wilson Center, Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science, and the Law: Legal Issues Affecting Federal Agencies. His website is 

Dr. Lea Shanley, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow in the Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Advisor to SciStarter. Her research interests focus on the intersection of open science, technology, policy and law. Previously, Lea served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA, co-founder of the Federal Citizen Science community of practice and, and founding director of the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.  She was a CSA Board Member, and now serves on the CSA Law and Policy Working Group Steering Committee.

Twitter: @Lea_Shanley

Dr. Daniel Susser, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the College of Information Sciences & Technology and research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State University. A philosopher by training, he works at the intersection of technology, ethics, and policy. His research aims to highlight normative issues in the design, development, and use of digital technologies, and to clarify conceptual issues that stand in the way of addressing them through law and policy. At the moment, he is especially focused on questions about privacy, online influence, and automated decision-making. 

Twitter: @internetdaniel

Anna Berti Suman is a PhD researcher at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (The Netherlands), currently also Visiting Researcher at the JRC. Her PhD project aims at investigating how grassroots-driven Citizen Sensing can challenge and ultimately influence environmental risk governance. Anna has work and research experience in environmental risk policy (Ecuador), water management (Chile) and the public health sector (London). Besides academia, Anna volunteers as pro-bono environmental lawyer for non-governmental organizations (e.g. Greenpeace International).

Twitter: @Abesuman 

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