A member of the community must have their PGP public key signed by at least one existing member of the community before their key can be admitted into the Debian keyring which then enables them to modify and upload software, participate in elections, etc. There are strict guidelines on the level of proof required for signature—meeting in person, both parties show government photo ID, etc. There are also other similar prerequisites, such as accepting the social contract and advocation by another member, and violations result in removal of access by the community.
By providing several routes to registration, we hope to enable access to as wide a group of potential data users as possible while maintaining a strong level of accountability. Registration for clinical care professionals will in most cases be linked to professional oversight and disciplinary governance frameworks.
Dr Marcus G.P. Wong
In case these routes did not allow registration of atypical potential users, as an additional route to registration, any individual would also be able to apply to a standard Data Access Committee DAC , the committees that oversee access to controlled access data, to be assessed on a case-by-case basis for registered access status. Integral to the definitions of bona fide researcher and clinical care professional are the statements and agreements included in the attestation stage of the registration process see Fig. The registered access policy model. The figure shows the authentication and attestation requirements of the GA4GH registered access policy model for the user categories of bona fide researcher and clinical care professional.
The seven statements shown in quotation marks form the attestation stage of the process. One of the attestation statements refers to respecting consent-based data use permissions and restrictions, which should ideally be expressed as Consent Codes [ 32 ]. The GA4GH Consent Codes are a structured way of recording consent permissions so they can be made clear to users and to enable maximum data aggregation with the same or broader permissions. Another attestation statement prohibits any attempt to identify individuals based on combining shared data with other public or non-public data sources.
We also plan to include an educational module as part of the registration process. Ultimately, we aim to enable a single format for the registration process but support a model that would allow for additional attestation statements attaching extra conditions of use for some datasets or for data from some providers. The current attributes chosen to define registered users in these categories are designed to cover most of the use cases.
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When exceptions arise, there would have to be a very strong need for the new definition to make everyone deploy it and populate values to the existing users retrospectively. Importantly, such exceptions would only be considered valid if driven by informed consent requirements or national laws. Another interesting suggestion regarding transparency was to request and publish links to public researcher profiles for all registered researchers. In agreeing on the proposed routes to registration, we have effectively delegated the authorization of registered users for the two categories described here to established professional employment, accreditation, or accomplishment.
Along with efforts to automate registered access, this potentially limits the amount of manual authorization that will be required. A challenge will be to define the requirements an organization needs to meet to become trusted in a global GA4GH registered access system e. The challenge, therefore, may be to establish standards for those entities facilitating registration, including the institutions hosting registered users.
A particularly crucial element of the institutional aspect of access control is the identification of accounts that no longer meet the access criteria. There needs to be well-defined, well-understood mechanisms for reviewing and revoking status, and registries of users will need to demonstrate that they successfully ensure sponsors do so in a timely manner. There may be several registries and relying parties managed by different organizations in different geographical locations. Registered access relying parties are the entities that consume OpenID authorizations and enforce access rights and privileges based on the registered access status and attributes of the users.
To be able to use registered access claims, a relying party needs to trust one or several OpenID Providers. In order to establish a federation of OpenID Providers and relying parties, they need to agree on the exact semantics of registered access status and attributes; how credentials are verified by the OpenID Provider and expressed to the relying party; what technical protocols are used to share between the registry and the relying party; and how to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the communication.
User attributes and attestations are provided to relying parties through the standardized OpenID Connect protocol, which is based on OAuth 2. Once identity has been authenticated and registered access attributes shared, OAuth 2. The GA4GH is working to define a set of custom claims for registered access that all OpenID Providers and relying parties can adopt Library Cards [ 34 ] providing interoperability across the ecosystem of registered access adopters. Strong identity-proofing will be required within a unified identity framework, especially in the future, for registration that is independent of institutional listing or peer vouching.
We plan to use existing guidelines [ 35 ] for how to establish and maintain trust in digital identities. These frameworks rank a spectrum of assurance levels, and relying parties can report in claims which of these levels was used to perform identity proofing. Researcher attributes and registered access status count as personal, identifiable information, which is protected by privacy laws, including the new GDPR in the EU.
To protect the privacy of researchers and respect data protection laws, it is proposed that OpenID Providers limit the amount of personal data shared with relying parties. This would mean communicating only a pseudonymous identifier of the researcher i. Consent is one of the six lawful bases to process personal information in the GDPR [ 36 ]. For the registration process, this would entail providing users with a way to consent to the sharing of their personal data for the purposes of gaining registered status, which ELIXIR has integrated into its pilot system.
Different datasets, even within an institution, may have different requirements, such as the Consent Codes associated with data. In the interests of efficiency and alleviating administrative burden on data custodians—particularly given the number of potential registered users—efforts should be made to automate the registered access process. Additionally, from an information security perspective, self-asserted attributes provide little accountability and raise the possibility of identity theft.
We therefore sought to incorporate automated or delegated, e. As our plans for the processing of registered access attributes for bona fide researcher registration draw on pre-existing academic infrastructure, we envisage minimal investment from an institutional perspective, reducing barriers to adoption of this system. It will be important to install a comparable system for access by researchers in industry.
To register their bona fide researcher status and make the related attestations within such federations, a researcher would first need to log in at their home institution, which then delivers their fresh and validated role and affiliation information to the registration process. A benefit of using an identity federation for registered access is that the researcher status is not self-asserted by the researcher but instead claimed by the research institution employing the researcher.
Collaborations such as the Federated Identity Management for Research Collaboration FIM4R aim to establish common standards that meet the needs of various research communities [ 38 , 39 ]. While there remain many challenges in implementing registered access, especially at scale and with respect to the legal and administrative tools to facilitate registration through the proposed range of routes, the GA4GH pilots have allowed us to flesh out various aspects and better understand its practical utility. The main goal of registered access is to streamline access to datasets that require acceptance of terms and conditions due to consent agreements or because of a level of ethical and legal risk, and to enable access to multiple datasets at once as well as to facilitate data discovery and use.
We also envisage that the simplicity, and clarity, of the standard conditions of data access and use in registered access the attestation will both encourage greater use of the data and respect for its ethical use, as seen with licensing terms, such as GNU General Public License and Creative Commons. The registered access model and services described above must correctly maintain protections that were agreed to by study participants as well as researchers and clinicians who wish to study their data in order to eventually advance biomedical knowledge and benefit society.
The registered access policy model will then need to be recognized and supported by many stakeholders, including research ethics boards, such that the language used in consent forms and research agreements are compatible with this access model. Ultimately, the confidence the research community will gain in the system will determine the extent of the resources it will ultimately provide. Finally, while we have focused initially on registration criteria for researchers and clinical care professionals, many of whom have not generally had access through the controlled access system, we anticipate that data users will eventually include members of the public, including patients and citizen scientists see e.
We plan to consider expanding registered access for these important and diverse groups in the near future, within the permissions of consent, and ethical standards, and with broad consultation with patient advocacy groups and research participants.
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Another important aspect of improving data access is the development of ethics tools to support the assessment of data sensitivity and therefore the risk in data sharing to better determine proportionate levels of protection e. A coherent approach involves considering both the risk of re-identification of data and its sensitivity, along with the data sharing expectations of individuals and communities Data Sharing Privacy Test [ 41 ].
We expect registered access will inform and may even replace many controlled access mechanisms as the level of accountability that it can achieve is demonstrated over time. Data Access Committees may come to play new roles, such as deciding which data are suited to registered access, as well as reviewing applications of atypical potential users and handling other aspects of data governance e.
We believe that it is ethically desirable to use less restrictive access controls, wherever suitable, to increase the chances of having the best research from the most people using the data that has been contributed. To needlessly reduce appropriate access likely undermines the intentions and desires of research participants as well as hindering the course of research progress. Bobrow M. Funders must encourage scientists to share. Making sense of big data in health research: towards an EU action plan.
Genome Med. Prepublication data sharing. Am J Human Genet. Brenner SE.
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