I think this is an excellent initiative. I’d note that many conservation journals, such as Oryx, have ethical rules that state that all papers published by them must meet certain ethical criteria, but these tend to apply to animal welfare or environmental impacts (e.g. on safe and ethical capture of species for sampling) rather than human subjects.
On point 3: This perhaps needs to say that before deploying CSTs, there should be a discussion, and a plan developed, for how they might deal with certain events/circumstances. E.g. plan in advance what they might do if they capture images of poaching, or data gets stolen, or whatever. So, an a priori assessment of what are the possible likely or high impact negative impacts of using CSTs, and some anticipation of how you might respond. This response is probably best as being somewhat flexible – i.e. principles of how you would respond, or likely responses, rather than a fixed, determined response, on the basis that things might not be exactly as anticipated
There should be a clear statement that ethics is an ongoing process throughout the project using CST, a cycle of reflexivity, rather than a thing you do as a one-off procedural hurdle in a project.
On something implicit throughout, but perhaps needs to be made explicit – ethics in CST apply to all stages of the process, from the conceptualising phase (do we want to use CSTs at all? For what purposes?) through planning, deployment, analysis and publications/policies. It’s not just the deployment and analysis stages. For example, there are some key ethical issues that emerge about putting data on long-term data storage repositories – some research councils in the UK mandate that all data is put on a repository. This has potential positive and negative implications, which emerge from the fact that we don’t know how the data we are capturing today might be used in 10 years’ time, under different social, political and technological conditions. We can’t anticipate fully how data in repositories might be used in future, particularly if they are re-analysed using technologies that don’t yet exist.
Similarly, CST refers not just to data captured originally by the person reading this (e.g. if they want to use drones as aerial surveys), but also if they want to analyse data captured by others, even if it is already in the public domain (e.g. running algorithms to re-analyse google earth images)
Should there be something that recommends engagement with institutional research ethics procedures, e.g. at universities. I’d say from my experience on my institutional research ethics committee, that biologists are particularly rubbish at engaging with the processes and procedures, other than around lab experiment animals. E.g. they use camera traps, with human bycatch, but never apply for ethics clearance beforehand.
Is this supposed to be explicitly about human ethics concerns? Are issues such as drones disrupting animals discussed here or elsewhere? If it is just about humans, maybe make this clear and say that there are environmental concerns about CSTs, which are discussed elsewhere.
Make it clear perhaps that those affected by CSTs and ethics include not just accidental or deliberate human subjects/bycatch/data, but also the research team themselves. E.g. the wellbeing of research assistants/local field assistants. They may live more directly with the consequences of things going wrong than a researcher from a university or NGO.
Perhaps a key tricky issue, and one that needs to be discussed explicitly, is how people should deal with CST data that uncovers illegal activities. From experience, I’d suspect that many people would report any illegal activity captured by CST (poachers on camera traps/drones), without thinking critically about the implications of doing so, which is particularly important in more ‘oppressive’ conservation regimes. One way round this might be to have something in point 6 saying “Those deploying or analysing CST which captures evidence of illegal, proscribed or otherwise controversial activity, should not necessarily share this with authorities in its raw, un-anonymised or unaltered form, depending on the particular circumstances”. I realise that this is a massive can of worms though