Research Ethics Roundup: Historic USDA Fine for Violations of Animal Welfare Act, Legal Challenge to OkCupid Data Release, and More

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup focuses on three different legal actions: one of the largest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) penalties in history is being issued over Animal Welfare Act violations; ACLU’s complaint against Myriad Genetics; and OkCupid’s legal actions after a dataset was controversially released by a researcher.

goatUS Government Issues Historic $3.5-million Fine Over Animal Welfare: In this piece for Nature, Sara Reardon focuses on the penalty issued by the USDA for alleged Animal Welfare Act violations. USDA inspectors found, among other things, goats with large tumors and untreated coyote bites during their inspections of Santa Cruz Biotechnology’s buildings. Before a USDA hearing earlier this year, 5,000 rabbits and goats were removed from Santa Cruz Biotechnology’s buildings and the company has yet to confirm their whereabouts.

Patients Challenge Myriad Genetics for Access to their Gene Data: In this article for STAT, Leah Samuel reports on a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union claiming that Myriad Genetics was unlawfully refusing to share “the full genotype data that they generated from patients” in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). New guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services states individuals have the right to “not only the laboratory test reports but also the underlying information generated as part of the test, as well as other information concerning tests a laboratory runs on an individual.”

OKCupidPublicly Available Data on Thousands of OKCupid Users Pulled over Copyright Claim: Retraction Watch reports on the controversial release of a large OkCupid dataset. The Open Science Framework recently pulled the dataset after OkCupid filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim.

Data Sharing: Access All Areas: In this Nature article, Brian Owens highlights McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital plan to “make all results, data and publications from its research free to access” and decision to “not pursue patents on any of its discoveries.” The publicly-funded Institute thinks that sharing data will accelerate their neuroscience research program.