After a while, it didn’t matter what someone’s profile said. There are rumors that he gave up and moved to a cabin deep in the woods, while others think he offed himself out of frustration.

In each of these cases, researchers hoped to advance our understanding of a phenomenon by making publicly available large datasets of user information they considered already in the public domain.

As Kirkegaard stated: “Data is already public.” No harm, no ethical foul right? Many of the basic requirements of research ethics—protecting the privacy of subjects, obtaining informed consent, maintaining the confidentiality of any data collected, minimizing harm—are not sufficiently addressed in this scenario.

He put on an episode of Lindsey jumped backwards and yelled.

She pointed to the knives—butcher knives to be exact.

The caller repeated: “Amelia, what’s the most private thing you’re willing to admit about yourself?

a group of Danish researchers publicly released a dataset of nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site Ok Cupid, including usernames, age, gender, location, what kind of relationship (or sex) they’re interested in, personality traits, and answers to thousands of profiling questions used by the site.

When asked whether the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. Kirkegaard, who was lead on the work, replied bluntly: “No.

Data is already public.” This sentiment is repeated in the accompanying draft paper, “The OKCupid dataset: A very large public dataset of dating site users,” posted to the online peer-review forums of Some may object to the ethics of gathering and releasing this data.

He is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Director of the Center for Information Policy Research.