The Datafication of Wastewater:
Legal, Ethical and Civic Considerations
Keywords:Wastewater surveillance, datafication, privacy, research ethics, civic governance, surveillance
Wastewater analysis and surveillance are well-established practices whose use has dramatically expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we argue that the extraction of diverse types of data from wastewater is part of the larger phenomenon of ‘datafication’. We explore the evolving technologies and uses of wastewater data and argue that there are insufficient legal and ethical frameworks in place to properly govern them. We begin with an overview of the different pur- poses for wastewater data analyses as well as the location and scale of collection. We then consider legal and ethical principles and oversight frameworks that shape current approaches to wastewater collection. After situating wastewater collection within its particular civic context, we argue in favour of greater engagement with legal and ethical issues and propose doing so through a civic perspective. Our paper concludes with a discussion of the normative shifts that are needed and how we might achieve these.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Teresa Scassa, Pamela Robinson, Ryan Mosoff
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