Reassessing values for big-data technologies: Integrating design-based and application-based approaches

Karolina La Fors*, Bart Custers, Esther Keymolen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Through the exponential growth in digital devices and computational capabilities, big data technologies are putting pressure upon the boundaries of what can or cannot be considered acceptable from an ethical perspective. Much of the literature on ethical issues related to big data and big data technologies focuses on separate values such as privacy, human dignity, justice or autonomy. More holistic approaches, allowing a more comprehensive view and better balancing of values, usually focus on either a design-based approach, in which it is tried to implement values into the design of new technologies, or an application-based approach, in which it is tried to address the ways in which new technologies are used. Some integrated approaches do exist, but typically are more general in nature. This offers a broad scope of application, but may not always be tailored to the specific nature of big data related ethical issues. In this paper we distil a comprehensive set of ethical values from existing design-based and application-based ethical approaches for new technologies and further focus these values to the context of emerging big data technologies. A total of four value lists were selected for this. The integrated list consists of a total of ten values: human welfare, autonomy, non-maleficence, justice, accountability, trustworthiness, privacy, dignity, solidarity and environmental welfare. Together, this set of values provides a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the values that are to be taken into account for emerging big data technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-226
JournalEthics and information technology
Issue number3
Early online date24 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • design
  • ethics
  • big data


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