A key part of the NLP ethics movement is responsible use of data, but exactly what that means or how it can be best achieved remain unclear. This position paper discusses the core legal and ethical principles for collection and sharing of textual data, and the tensions between them. We propose a potential checklist for responsible data (re-)use that could both standardise the peer review of conference submissions, as well as enable a more in-depth view of published research across the community. Our proposal aims to contribute to the development of a consistent standard for data (re-)use, embraced across NLP conferences.
Give Me Convenience and Give Her Death: Who Should Decide What Uses of NLP are Appropriate, and on What Basis?
Kobi Leins | Jey Han Lau | Timothy Baldwin
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
As part of growing NLP capabilities, coupled with an awareness of the ethical dimensions of research, questions have been raised about whether particular datasets and tasks should be deemed off-limits for NLP research. We examine this question with respect to a paper on automatic legal sentencing from EMNLP 2019 which was a source of some debate, in asking whether the paper should have been allowed to be published, who should have been charged with making such a decision, and on what basis. We focus in particular on the role of data statements in ethically assessing research, but also discuss the topic of dual use, and examine the outcomes of similar debates in other scientific disciplines.