Science and Technology Innovation Program

Commons Lab releases report on liability for digital volunteers in disasters

Sep 14, 2012
Responding to Liability

Author: Ed Robson, Esq. Editors: Lea Shanley and Aaron Lovell. Written on behalf of the Commons Lab, Science and Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson Center, with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and CrisisCommons.

Major emergencies and crises can overwhelm local resources. In the last several years, self-organized digital volunteers have begun leveraging the power of social media and “crowd-mapping” for collaborative crisis response.  Rather than mobilizing a physical response, these digital volunteer groups have responded virtually by creating software applications, monitoring social networks, aggregating data, and creating “crowdsourced” maps to assist both survivors and the formal response community.  These virtual responses can subject digital volunteers to tort liability. This report evaluates the precise contours of potential liability for digital volunteers. 

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Responding to Liability2.8 MB

Experts & Staff

  • David Rejeski // Director, Science and Technology Innovation Program; Interim Director, Commons Lab
  • Todd Kuiken, Ph.D. // Senior Program Associate, Science and Technology Innovation Program
  • Aaron Lovell // Writer/Editor/Program Manager, Science and Technology Innovation Program
  • Eleonore Pauwels // Program Associate/Researcher, Science and Technology Innovation Program
  • Anne Bowser // Researcher, Data Science and Visualization, Science and Technology Innovation Program
  • Elizabeth Tyson // New Projects/Technology Scout, Science and Technology Innovation Program
  • Sharon Weinberger // Global Fellow
  • Piers Millett // Global Fellow