Towards the ethical publication of country of origin information (COI) in the asylum process

Minds and Machines 30 (2):247-257 (2020)
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This article addresses the question of how ‘Country of Origin Information’ reports—that is, research developed and used to support decision-making in the asylum process—can be published in an ethical manner. The article focuses on the risk that published COI reports could be misused and thereby harm the subjects of the reports and/or those involved in their development. It supports a situational approach to assessing data ethics when publishing COI reports, whereby COI service providers must weigh up the benefits and harms of publication based, inter alia, on the foreseeability and probability of harm due to potential misuse of the research, the public good nature of the research, and the need to balance the rights and duties of the various actors in the asylum process, including asylum seekers themselves. Although this article focuses on the specific question of ‘how to publish COI reports in an ethical manner’, it also intends to promote further research on data ethics in the asylum process, particularly in relation to refugees, where more foundational issues should be considered.

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Luciano Floridi
Yale University

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