ANN ARBOR—When news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, 87 million Facebook users learned that their personal data was obtained and used by a British research firm to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Many were left wondering how data accessed by established researchers could have been used inappropriately and without their knowledge.

A new report from a team led by University of Michigan research professor Margaret Levenstein describes a new process to safeguard the research community’s access to and management of confidential data.

“Virtually all human activity in the modern world creates digital traces. It is our responsibility to ensure that the resulting data is protected and managed responsibly,” said Levenstein, director of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

The Researcher Credentialing for Restricted Data Access project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, aims to increase the willingness of other data research centers to share data and the ability of scientists to undertake new creative research projects with the least possible risk to privacy and confidentiality.

To read the rest of this story, click on