Potential Liability for Crowdsourced Disaster Response Groups
by Ed Robson, Communia Blog, September 26, 2011
Volunteer and technical communities organize to create and build tools that collect, search and organize data coming from crisis areas. These crowdsourcing groups have effectively responded to a variety of disasters, including the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes, the Japanese tsunami and the gulf oil spill. At the same time, these groups raise liability questions that courts have yet to address. Volunteer and technical communicates should take proactive steps to reduce this liability. If not properly managed, tort liability has the potential to destroy the model before it realizes its potential. The law does not require a person to rescue another, even if the person can do so safely. Uncomfortable with this general rule, courts have narrowed it with several exceptions. A duty to rescue arises when: 1) a person undertakes rescue; 2) where a person’s conduct puts another in danger; and 3) when a special relationship exists between the rescuer and the victim.
For full text of the analysis, visit Communia.
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Dr. Lea Shanley is the founder and former co-Chair of the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, a vibrant community of 200 federal employees from more than 35 agencies. She is also a co-founding member of the Citizen Science Association. Dr. Shanley recently served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA, where she helped to foster a culture of open innovation. Prior to this, she founded and directed the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center, served in the US Senate as a Congressional Science Fellow, and worked with local and tribal communities to develop GIS-based decision support systems for city planning, natural resource management, coastal management, and disaster response through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog of links to relevant news, events, and reports, provided for educational purposes only. The opinions and views contained therein are those only of the authors of the original articles. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the editor of this blog or or associated organizations.
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