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Online Information of Vaccines: Conclusion and Referencesby@browserology
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Online Information of Vaccines: Conclusion and References

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This study investigates the relationship between search engines’ approach to privacy and the scientific quality of the information they return.
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This paper is available on arxiv under CC 4.0 license.

Authors:

(1) Pietro Ghezzi, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Falmer, Brighton, UK;

(2) Peter G Bannister, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Falmer, Brighton, UK;

(3) Gonzalo Casino, Communication Department, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain and Iberoamerican Cochrane Center, Barcelona, Spain;

(4) Alessia Catalani, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, PU, Italy;

(5) Michel Goldman, Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation in healthcare (I3h), Université libre de Bruxelles;

(6) Jessica Morley, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK;

(7) Marie Neunez, Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation in healthcare (I3h), Université libre de Bruxelles;

(8) Andreu Prados, Communication Department, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain, Iberoamerican Cochrane Center, Barcelona, Spain, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, PU, Italy, Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation in healthcare (I3h), Université libre de Bruxelles, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, and Blanquerna School of Health Sciences, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain;

(9) Mariarosaria Taddeo, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, Blanquerna School of Health Sciences, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain, and The Alan Turing Institute, London, UK;

(10) Tania Vanzolini, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, PU, Italy;

(11) Luciano Floridi, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, Blanquerna School of Health Sciences, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain, and The Alan Turing Institute, London, UK.


Conclusion

Our analysis shows that while it may well be technically possible to design a search engine that manages to balance privacy-preservation with the promotion of high IQ material, this is currently not the case. The current relationship between privacy-preserving design features of search engines and the IQ of the results they return is inverse (although not proportionally). In instances where this can have a negative impact on public health, as in the example we have provided of the promotion of anti-vaccine misinformation, not intervening to alter the design of the algorithm even if this means sacrificing some degree of user privacy - can lead to severe harm for a large population of user and is, therefore, unethical.


Designing a search engine that is privacy savvy and avoids issues with filter bubbles that can result from user-tracking may be a good thing, like designing a car with an engine that does not pollute and is inexpensive to run, and designers should seek to balance the different aspects of search engine design highlighted in Figure 3. However, if the brakes in an environmentally-designed car do not work, the car is unsafe and this negates the positive ethical decisions made by the designers. In a car this is a highly unlikely design outcome, as a car has to undergo several rounds of testing by regulatory agencies before being allowed on the market. This is not yet the case for search engines, which are only regulated from the perspective of data protection – which is primarily interpreted as data security rather than data privacy. Our study suggests that this is necessary but insufficient, and instead mechanisms should be developed to test search engines from the perspective of IQ, (particularly for YMYL webpages) before they can be deemed trustworthy providers of public health information.


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