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Seetha Kumar Seetha Kumar | 11:20 UK time, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

labuk_logo.gifHave you been tempted to check out Lab UK and take the Big Personality Test or join the Brain Test experiment? If you haven't come across it so far, you may want to have a look as this is where you can be part of groundbreaking scientific experiments. The results from these two tests will be revealed in Spring.

As the BBC today celebrates its ongoing commitment to science, this year Lab UK will be working with UCL and Stanford University to test whether the internet has changed the physiology of our brains. By working in partnership with leading external institutions we can help collate data that throws light on how technology may be changing the very way we think. Our hope is this will be the biggest ever study evaluating human behaviour in cyberspace. If this is the case, the results of this analysis should be very interesting indeed.

Today also sees the revamp of the BBC science portal.

Across the BBC, programme sites for Bang Goes The Theory and Nina and the Neurons are offering family and parents experiments and tests that they can try at home, with our new astronomy archive Planet Explorer coming up later this year. Planet Explorer is about the BBC at your fingertips, using a similar format to our successful nature portal Wildlife Finder, which Tom Scott wrote about last year.

Planet Explorer will feature more than 100 clips from 1969 through to 2010, of unforgettable moments including Sir Patrick Moore's first words on The Sky At Night through to footage of NASA's Apollo missions. It's about leveraging the power of BBC Online to offer genuine insights into the world we live in - by curating BBC content and complementing what exists on the internet about the Milky Way we will provide a very distinctive proposition. We hope to deliver many more projects on these lines over the coming year, and, as ever I would be interested in your thoughts.

Seetha Kumar is Controller BBC Online and the BBC's Online Access Champion.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    From the Labs UK FAQ:

    "Who will have access to my data?

    The data gathered through the Big Personality Test will be analysed by the scientists who designed it, Professor Michael Lamb and Dr Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge. However, the data the scientists receive will contain no personally identifying information such as your name, email address or full postcode. It will be completely anonymous."


    So why is the BBC asking for such information, the data might not be passed on to the the University of Cambridge but it will, for an unknown amount of time, be stored on BBC servers. Just how long does our submitted data stay on the BBC servers, how secure are these BBC servers and who within the BBC (and or it's contractors) will or might be able to access this data, is the data encrypted on the BBC servers or just during electronic transfer via HTTPS - considering that the BBC is asking for and storing fully identifiable personal data that (in the wrong hands) will lead to one's very front door and beyond...

    "Can I drop out of the Big Personality Test?

    You can end your participation at any time by simply closing your browser or navigating away from the Big Personality Test. If you wish to go further and delete data stored in the Lab UK database you can e-mail us, and your data will be excluded from the test immediately and deleted permanently within 28 days of your request."


    Why isn't there simply a "Delete my Data" Button on the web page, and why needing 28 days, once excluded the data should be deleted (even if data has already been passed onto the University of Cambridge - this is not rocket science after all, it's just standard IT practise surely, just as an authenticated user can add information they should be able to delete that information in real time...

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    # 1 Boilerplated wrote:

    From the Labs UK FAQ:

    "Who will have access to my data?

    The data gathered through the Big Personality Test will be analysed by the scientists who designed it, Professor Michael Lamb and Dr Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge. However, the data the scientists receive will contain no personally identifying information such as your name, email address or full postcode. It will be completely anonymous."

    So why is the BBC asking for such information, the data might not be passed on to the the University of Cambridge but it will, for an unknown amount of time, be stored on BBC servers. Just how long does our submitted data stay on the BBC servers, how secure are these BBC servers and who within the BBC (and or it's contractors) will or might be able to access this data, is the data encrypted on the BBC servers or just during electronic transfer via HTTPS - considering that the BBC is asking for and storing fully identifiable personal data that (in the wrong hands) will lead to one's very front door and beyond...

    "Can I drop out of the Big Personality Test?

    You can end your participation at any time by simply closing your browser or navigating away from the Big Personality Test. If you wish to go further and delete data stored in the Lab UK database you can e-mail us, and your data will be excluded from the test immediately and deleted permanently within 28 days of your request."

    Why isn't there simply a "Delete my Data" Button on the web page, and why needing 28 days, once excluded the data should be deleted (even if data has already been passed onto the University of Cambridge - this is not rocket science after all, it's just standard IT practise surely, just as an authenticated user can add information they should be able to delete that information in real time...


    Hi Boilerplated
    Apologies for the delay - I've been busy. Anyway, this is what I gleaned from the UK Lab team:

    BBC iD is used to collect the data as a way of helping ensure that the data is coming from real people. Using BBC iD means that survey responses and personal data can be kept separate.

    Full postcodes are collected but aren't passed onto the scientists - they receive the outer postcode (the part before the space) so they can identify where the data comes from but without being able to locate your whereabouts. This is explained on the consent page before people start the experiment.

    Deleting user data requires the intervention of a database administrator. 28 days is specified to cover any time lag betwen request being sent, received by the editorial team and the work being done. Requests can happen much faster but allowing for weekends, holidays etc 28 days was thought to be a safer buffer.

    There's a set of FAQs for the Big Personality Test (I know you've read these already, others might find them useful) and an About Page for Lab UK.


    Paul

  • Comment number 4.

    This is all very well but I have been participating in the experiment for four months. This last week I have been unable to access my tests and despite numerous e-mails have as yet received no response. If you wish to conduct these type of experiments please improve your customer service.

  • Comment number 5.

    re the 'excuses' given as replies @ #3 to questions asked @ #1:

    Paul, the following is not directed at you as I know you were just the messenger.

    Sorry but that is simple blustering - to put it politely, post-codes over the net prove nothing, as it is I am in the south of the UK but could as easily give a known post code from the NE (or were ever) and unless the BBC are going to carry out a trace route on my IP address (which would create even more security/privacy issues...) there is no way what so ever that the BBC will know any different. Far to many internet applications ask for post codes for no good reason, not just within the BBC either, considering that (and as I said @ #1) the BBC is asking for and storing fully identifiable personal data that (in the wrong hands) will lead to one's very front door and beyond...

    As for having to wait 28 days for deletion, rubbish, are you saying that it takes 28 days for our answers to be submitted to the database?! If the information can be added in real time it can and SHOULD be deleted in real time...

    Also, there was no answer as to how long the BBC hold our fully traceable data for, and who might have access to it, please could someone give full and proper answers to these serious security questions or does it require submissions to the BBC Trust, a FoI request and questions asked of the data commissionaire.

  • Comment number 6.

    # 4. Pat wrote:
    "This is all very well but I have been participating in the experiment for four months. This last week I have been unable to access my tests and despite numerous e-mails have as yet received no response. If you wish to conduct these type of experiments please improve your customer service."

    Hi Pat
    I spoke to the Lab team today and there have been technical issues and as a result they have a backlog of feedback to work through. Apologies.
    Best wishes
    Paul

  • Comment number 7.

    5. At 09:57am on 03 Feb 2010, I wrote:

    "Also, there was no answer as to how long the BBC hold our fully traceable data for, and who might have access to it, please could someone give full and proper answers to these serious security questions or does it require submissions to the BBC Trust, a FoI request and questions asked of the data commissionaire."

    Six weeks on and still no reply from the BBC...

  • Comment number 8.

    It's happening again!!!! This time my progress will not save. HELP!

  • Comment number 9.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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