About the research
There are protocols for gathering informed consent for collecting data via social surveys, that address the increased disclosure risk that comes with linking these data to other information sources. However, non-research generated data from smart appliances or connected devices have distinct and different ethical and legal challenges. In some cases, various protections that are typically applied at several points in the research data life cycle may not have taken place. However, access to contexualised data from individuals or households, can be safely and successfully managed through a robust and trusted governance framework. Here we set out some of the ethical challenges and consider the use of informed consent and the ‘Five Safes’ protocol to ensure safe access to data.