The role of geodata technologies in humanitarian action is arguably indispensable in determining when, where, and who needs aid before, during, and after a disaster. However, despite the advantages of using geodata technologies in humanitarianism (i.e., fast and efficient aid distribution), several ethical challenges arise, including privacy. The focus has been on individual privacy; however, in this article, we focus on group privacy, a debate that has recently gained attention. We approach privacy through the lens of informational harms that undermine the autonomy of groups and control of knowledge over them. Using demographically identifiable information (DII) as a definition for groups, we first assess how these are derived from geodata types used in humanitarian DRRM. Second, we discuss four informational-harm threat models: (i) biases from missing/underrepresented categories, (ii) the mosaic effect—unintentional sensitive knowledge discovery from combining disparate datasets, (iii) misuse of data (whether it is shared or not); and (iv) cost–benefit analysis (cost of protection vs. risk of misuse). Lastly, borrowing from triage in emergency medicine, we propose a geodata triage process as a possible method for practitioners to identify, prioritize, and mitigate these four group-privacy harms.
- group privacy
- demographically identifiable information
- threat models