Call for papers "Ethics and Privacy of Big Data Use for Migration Research"

Submission Deadline: 10 July 2021

Call for papers for the Workshop:

Ethics and Privacy of Big Data Use for Migration Research


7-8 October 2021, Online


Accepting full-paper and extended-abstract submissions


Submission deadline: 10 July 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 August 2021


We invite contributions for the joint online workshop "Ethics of Big Data for Migration Research" organised by the HumMingBird consortium (Enhanced Migration Measures from a Multidimensional Perspective, H2020 project - GA 870661), the SoBigData++ consortium (European Integrated Infrastructure for Social Mining and Big Data Analytics, H2020 Project - GA 871042) and the IMISCOE Meth@Mig (Methodological Approaches and Tools in Migration Research) standing committee.


The concept of Big Data is gaining popularity with respect to every aspect of life given the influence of technology on individuals and governance. Big Data applications have been used widely for commercial purposes and for scientific use, several methodologies are adopted for various disciplines. Nevertheless, migration research has only recently adopted the possibility of Big Data use for studying human mobility. Analytical methods and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms required to extract meaningful insights from Big Data and transform these data into “value” (De Maura et al., 2016) and several studies and projects have demonstrated that big data technologies are novel sources to develop proxies and indicators for migration (Dijstelbloem 2017; Zagheni et al., 2017; Spyratos et al., 2019; Böhme, et al., 2020; IOM, 2020). Along with the opportunities of the use of Big Data for migration research, concerns with ethical and secure data collection, privacy-preserving and human-rights-compliant data usage and unintended consequences of AI algorithms have been brought up regularly (Dignum, 2018; Floridi et al., 2018; McGregor et al., 2019; Molnar, 2019; Beduschi, 2020). Hence, with this workshop we intend to provide the space to reflect on ethical implications of Big Data use in migration research in a more systematic way.


Issues surrounding privacy, data protection and confidentiality continue to pose risks and challenges to researchers. In 2018, the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation. However, how regulations and machine learning will come together in the future is still a question to be answered. Big data research is still new to or out of the mandate of universities’ ethical boards. It is essential for migration research and scholars, where AI technologies with Big Data are involved, to ensure that privacy principles are respected, and ethical considerations are made to ensure Big Data does not adversely affect the human rights of migrants in accordance with international law.


Consequently, this workshop aims at bringing together researchers and practitioners from various disciplines and sectors who work on theoretical, philosophical, legal and ethical aspects of Big Data possibly with a focus on migration; Big Data and new technologies for migration studies; real-life applications and socio-political consequences of Big Data and AI employment for migration to discuss and present their experience, knowledge and research on the topic. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as work on tools and frameworks are welcome.


Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Fosca Giannotti, Pisa KDD Lab - Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Laboratory
  • Ana Beduschi, University of Exeter Law School


We invite contributions from scholars and practitioners on the ethics of using Big Data (mobile phone data, social media data, censored-based/satellite data, biometric data, financial data, etc.) and of applying AI for the purpose of estimation, indicator development, data harmonisation, border control and management, humanitarian aid within the migration context, with special focus on (but not limited to):


  • Dealing with (lack of) common standards and mechanisms on “Ethics and Data Privacy",
  • Fairness, transparency, and justice in socio-technical research and practices involving Big Data and AI,
  • Compliance with the human rights and fundamental rights of migrants and ethics of Big Data,
  • Ethical use of Big Data for public-private partnerships and humanitarian sector,
  • Ethics of blockchain technologies,
  • (Big) data access and the practice of ethical data-sharing,
  • Issues of representation, internal and external validity of research derived from Big Data,
  • Ethical and privacy related questions regarding data linkage,
  • Power, politics and (big) data ownership,
  • Disciplinary, institutional, and national boundaries regarding ethical concerns with Big Data,
  • Social consequences of the implications of Big Data and new technologies,
  • Mitigation strategies for overcoming ethical challenges,
  • How to valorise recommendations into real-life applications,
  • Privacy-by design in migration Big Data analysis,
  • Legality issues in data science for migration studies.


All papers must be original and not simultaneously submitted to another journal or conference.  The papers will be selected through a round of single-blind review. Submitted manuscripts should have a length of approx. 5000-8000 words of content in the article (this means that title, abstract & references do not count but that tables and quotes do count). We also accept extended abstracts of minimum length of approx. 2000 words, which would be expected to be submitted in full paper version before the event.


The submissions should be done via EasyChair:  


Selected works will be invited for publication in a Special Issue (proposal) for a highly ranked scientific journal to be announced before the workshop.     






Beduschi, A. (2020). International migration management in the age of artificial intelligence. Migration Studies. doi: 10.1093/migration/mnaa003.

Böhme, M. H., Gröger, A., & Stöhr, T. (2020). Searching for a better life: Predicting international migration with online search keywords. Journal of Development Economics, 142, 102347.

De Mauro A.,Greco, M., Grimaldi, M. (2016). A formal definition of Big Data based on its essential features. Library Review, 65 (2016): 122-135

Dignum, V. (2018). Ethics in artificial intelligence: Introduction to the special issue. Ethics and Information Technology, 20(1), 1–3.

Dijstelbloem H. (2017). Migration Tracking is a Mess. Nature, 543/7643: 32–4.

Floridi, L., Cowls, J., Beltrametti, M., Chatila, R., Chazerand, P., Dignum, V., … Schafer, B. (2018). AI4People: An ethical framework for a good AI society: Opportunities, Risks, Principles, and Recommendations. Minds and Machines, 28(4), 689–707.

McGregor L., Murray D., Ng V. (2019) ‘International Human Rights Law as a Framework for Algorithmic Accountability. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 68(2): 309–43.

Molnar P (2019). Technology on the margins: AI and global migration management from a human rights perspective. Cambridge International Law Journal, 8(2): 305-330.

Spyratos, S., Vespe, M., Natale, F., Weber, I., Zagheni, E., & Rango, M. (2019). Quantifying international human mobility patterns using Facebook Network data. PloS one, 14(10), e0224134.

Zagheni, E., Weber, I., & Gummadi, K. (2017). Leveraging Facebook's advertising platform to monitor stocks of migrants. Population and Development Review, 721-734.



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