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Tim Stevens
Friday, June 12, 2020

How ethical is your Data?

Across the tech industry, swift decisions on data use must be balanced with an ethical approach to curb misuse, particularly from unknown data resharing and reuse, and to help maintain business resilience.

Data sharing must be aligned with your company’s ethics, business values and priorities, while everyone across an organisation has a role to play in critical thinking and decision making on these matters.

Data Ethics


What is Data ethics and how does it differ from Data Privacy?

In recent years and months, broad ethical questions have increasingly been raised about the way businesses use data. There is a debate on where data protection and ethics overlap and where they are distinct or may even conflict .

While data privacy is about gathering, using and storing data responsibly, data ethics is about doing the right thing with data, keeping the human impact firmly in mind and basing decisions on brand values. The two can be seen as overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. Data ethics is perhaps less about what we have to do but what we ought to be doing, and what the right thing to do is.

Two years on from GDPR coming in to force, a recent survey from the World Federation of Advertisers which sought responses from nearly 150 senior industry executives found nearly three quarters (74%) of CMOs would think that, over the next five years, data ethics would become more central to their roles.

And the Information Commissioner’s Office appointed Ellis Parry as its first data ethics adviser last autumn to address ‘broad ethical questions’ surrounding data use and contribute to the public debate on the topic.


'We can' doesn't mean 'we should'

Modern data provides a unique chance for brands to personalise and get the most from their dealings with others. But the ethics of data and algorithms are set to remain key challenges to digital economies, at a time when trust and transparency have rarely been more important currencies.

So ‘because we can’ does not necessarily become ‘we should’, and it is crucial to think beyond basic compliance.

Under GDPR, for example, you don’t need specific consent to process business data, and you can send marketing emails to business addresses where there is legitimate interest. The decision of the ethics surrounding what you send, and to whom, remains yours entirely.

To help, you may want to think about forming your own data ethics advisory board, and incorporate a range of critical thinking and moral reasoning styles within it. Every organisation can create its own strong internal governance framework to inform their data ethics.

Now could be the ideal time to look afresh at these issues, and think about the way you use your information so that human factors are a driving force behind your decision making.Two years on from GDPR coming in to force, a recent survey from the World Federation of Advertisers which sought responses from nearly 150 senior industry executives found nearly three quarters (74%) of CMOs would think that, over the next five years, data ethics would become more central to their roles.

And the Information Commissioner’s Office appointed Ellis Parry as its first data ethics adviser last autumn to address ‘broad ethical questions’ surrounding data use and contribute to the public debate on the topic.

Our approach to Data ethics

While some may shy away from questions of data ethics, we don’t. At i-4business, we always have data ethics front of mind. We take the issues seriously and aim to go beyond what is required merely to meet the law, with totally transparent processes. And because we’re fully compliant with GDPR, that’s one thing less for our tech vendor clients to worry about. Our approach is summarised in our GDPR report which we’ll happily to share with you. We’ll also gladly answer any specific queries you may have on these issues. Finally, because all our research is done in-house, you can have complete confidence in its ethical soundness.

Contact us to learn how we can help you in sourcing the best tech sector business to business contact data for your marketing activity.