With the advent of new technologies to gather and process data, large data sets are being collected that are of interest to transportation researchers. However, legal and ethical questions around data ownership and protection in the context of emerging technologies, especially with regard to emerging automated and connected vehicle technologies, are still being formulated and addressed, but are not settled. This research compares the uses of primary and secondary, passively collected data sources to identify legal considerations affecting access to these data for transportation researchers. With privately sourced data becoming more prevalent, researchers are faced with additional duties and changing practices. This exploratory research aims to provide guidance to transportation researchers on the legal and ethical requirements for data protection.
- The shift toward working with privately sourced data means that practices to meet requirements may need to change, or that new requirements may arise that may not have been present before.
- Technological advances are enabling new levels of ease for data creation, proliferation, and access. This situation has greatly diminished the clarity of data ownership, which is an important question because ownership of data is tantamount to control. Determining ownership defines who can collect, process, use, and disseminate data.
- New data sets arrive with the additional legal duty to protect the private business interests of the commercial data owner. However, most researchers are not trained in what those interests are, how to protect them technically, or how to clearly understand their own legal duties under those contracts.
EWD & T2 Products
Webinar (link): Many emerging technologies that gather and process data produce large, privately-sourced datasets that are of interest to transportation researchers. However, legal and ethical questions surrounding data ownership and protection are far from settled and are forcing researchers to face additional duties and changing practices. This webinar reviewed exploratory research to identify legal considerations affecting researchers’ access to and use of data from both commercial, passively collected sources and human subjects research. The aim was to provide guidance to transportation researchers on the legal and ethical requirements for data protection.
Educational Presentation (pptx): This presentation was used in an educational setting to introduce students and researchers to the project, and may be used for future such presentations.
Student Impact Statement (pdf): The student(s) working on this project provided an impact statement describing what the project allowed them to learn/do/practice and how it benefited their education.
Stoeltje, G., Ramsey, N. (2019, April), Emerging Legal Issues for Transportation Researchers Using Passively Collected Data Sets, Webinar, https://vimeo.com/323308288
Stoeltje, G., Moran, M., Zmud, J., Ramsey, N., Stibbe, J. (2019) Emerging Legal Issues for Transportation Researchers Using Passively Collected Data Sets, Power Point Slides, /sdm_downloads/educational-presentation-tti-03-01-legal-and-technological-tools-for-accessing-avcv-data-sets/
Stoeltje, G., Moran, M., Zmud, J., Ramsey, N., Stibbe, J. (2019, August), Emerging Legal Issues for Transportation Researchers Using Passively Collected Data Sets, /wp-content/uploads/2019/10/TTI-03-01_FinalResearchReport_Final.pdf
The final datasets for this project are located in the Safe-D Collection on the VTTI Dataverse; DOI: 10.15787/VTT1/SIFR8G.
Research Investigators (PI*)
Start Date: 2018-01-01
End Date: 2018-12-31
Grant Number: 69A3551747115
Total Funding: $141,646
Source Organization: Safe-D National UTC
Project Number: TTI-03-01
Safe-D Theme Areas
Safe-D Application Areas
Driver Factors and Interfaces
Planning for Safety
UTC Project Information Form
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
University Transportation Centers Program
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590 United States
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
College Station, Texas 77843-3135