Which specific EU civil society approach to Big Data? - Ethical and social aspects of Big Data and the role of civil society

Recent progress in digital technologies and services has led to an increasingly complex collection and processing of data, which has the potential to revolutionise commercial, scientific and social processes by providing rapid and comprehensive data-driven support for decision-making. The "Big Data" phenomenon is growing rapidly, as it holds enormous potential which the European civil society cannot afford to miss.

How we handle the emergence of an era of Big Data is critical as current decisions will have considerable impact in the future. The questions of data ownership, governance, and consent are particularly interesting for EESC. There is a need for a better understanding of the role of data in shaping civil society and what is needed in order ensure that the European civil society continues to thrive.

This study will aim to provide the EESC with a detailed perspective on the ethics of Big Data in Europe. The main purpose of the study is to find out how should the European civil society develop, communicate and enforce ethical codes regarding Big Data. A secondary but closely linked objective of this study will be to find out evidence of a "big data divide" in EU civil society and analyse the implications on social justice and equality.

Key research questions include

  • To what extent, and in what ways, does Big Data feature in EU civil society activities?
  • Does Big Data raise new questions and issues that cannot be answered by existing ethical and legal frameworks?
  • What are the unique values of EU civil society that should shape its approach to ethical challenges raised by Big Data? Should civil society handle Big Data differently than governments?
  • How accessible is big data for civil society organisations (CSOs)? Who owns Big Data and is it affordable for CSOs?

Key outputs

  • A review of existing and relevant literature
  • Examples of high-level maps of data-sharing ecosystems – who is sharing data and who is using data – by looking at connections within and between sectors
  • A draft code of ethics for use of Big Data in civil society
  • Practical examples of solutions for ethical management of Big data in civil society

Languages/geographical area

The study should cover the European Union Member States.

Indicative calendar

  1. Launch of the invitation to tender: estimated timing is 21 May
  2. Deadline for submission of offers: 2 calendar weeks following the launching of invitation to tender
  3. Contract award:  estimated timing is:  06 July 2015


Send your expression of interest to participate or request for information to the following mail box (before the deadline - Brussels time - mentioned below)


Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 17:00