Ethics governance development: The case of the Menlo Report

Thursday March 30, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Dodson Room

Thursday, March 30 
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Dodson Room (Room 302)
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
RSVP required


The 2012 Menlo Report was an effort in which a group of computer scientists, US government funders, and lawyers produced ethics guidelines for research in information and communications technology (ICT). Here we study Menlo as a case of what we call ethics governance in the making, finding that this process examines past controversies and enrolls existing networks to connect the everyday practice of ethics with ethics as a form of governance. To create the Menlo Report, authors and funders relied on bricolage work with existing, available resources, which significantly shaped both the report’s contents and impacts. Report authors were motivated by both forward- and backward-looking goals: enabling new data-sharing as well as addressing past controversies and their implications for the field’s body of research. Authors also grappled with uncertainty about which ethical frameworks were appropriate and made the decision to classify much network data as human subjects data. Finally, the Menlo Report authors attempted to enroll multiple existing networks in governance through appeals to local research communities as well as taking steps towards federal rulemaking. The Menlo Report serves as a case study in how to study ethics governance in the making: with attention to resources, adaptation, and bricolage, and with a focus on both the uncertainties the process tries to repair, as well as the new uncertainties the process uncovers, which will become the site of future ethics work.


Dr. Finn is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Information School. She published the monograph, Documenting Aftermath: Information Infrastructures in the Wake of Disasters, about postearthquake communication practices. Her newer projects examine ethical research practices in the field of computer security, and investigate the implications of novel information policies on a transnational scale. She brings together perspectives and approaches from information studies, science and technology studies, and the history of media, information, and communication. In addition to her research and teaching, she is an advisor for the Science, Technology, & Society Studies (STSS) Graduate Certificate program, a member of the iSchool’s DataLab, and starting in 2019, a core faculty in Data Science Studies at the eScience Institute. Megan has an undergraduate degree in computer science from University of Michigan, completed her PhD at UC Berkeley, and spent time at Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, MA with the Social Media Collective as a Postdoctoral Researcher.


Please complete the following form to register for this event. You will receive an email confirming your registration. If you didn’t receive it, please check the spam folder in your inbox. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Colloquia March 30