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Your guide to improving data ethics at your organisation

Data Ethics Series Introduction (1)

by Paul Clough

An in depth look into the ethical use of data in your pipeline, from creation through to destruction.

The world is more connected and data enabled than ever. Organisations of all shapes and sizes use data to make decisions on everything from where to locate a particular service or new store, to who to contact about new product offers, and how to route council waste collections.

This use of data has put greater emphasis on data ethics — especially where the data may be used to make decisions that negatively affect people, organisations or society in general. 

The Data Protection Act 2018 brought the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law, with the regulations then incorporated into the UK General Data Protection Regulation. The act means that everyone who uses personal data — from organisations all the way through to the government — has to follow strict data protection principles.

Why should we care about data ethics?

The Open Data Institute (ODI) defines data ethics as: “A branch of ethics that evaluates data practices with the potential to adversely impact on people and society — in data collection, sharing and use.”

It argues that data ethics is not only relevant to how organisations use, process or analyse data, but the impact of data activities at every stage of the data lifecycle. 

Under this lens, meeting a legal requirement becomes just one part of data ethics. What’s more, it doesn’t always follow that an organisation is behaving ethically just because it’s compliant. We can think of this as the difference between what we could do and what we should do when dealing with data. 

Our article series has got you covered

In this article series we’ll highlight the key ethical considerations around five stages of the data lifecycle, from initial creation through to destruction.

Our aim is to help you better understand your obligations when it comes to data, and how you can go above and beyond the legislation, making your data practices as ethical as possible.

We’ll cover the following topics:

  1. Data collection: the importance of consent, confidentiality, and intent when gathering data.
  2. Data storage: the length of time you store data for, and who has access to it.
  3. Data usage: is your data use fair, transparent, and unbiased?
  4. Data sharing: how to approach anonymity, the benefits to the end user, and the implications of working with third parties when sharing data.
  5. Data destruction: setting user expectations around data management, and meeting them in the long term.

It’s a complex area, and we can’t cover everything, so along the way we’ll also be signposting useful resources available to help you on your journey towards ethical data practices.

Why not download our free report — which contains all our article content in one handy package.

And if at any point you’d like to find out more about our data services at TPXimpact, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

Paul Clough's avatar

Paul Clough

Head of Data Science and AI

Contact Paul

Find out how to improve data ethics in your organisation

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