Why the ethical use of data and user privacy concerns matter

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This article was contributed by Charlie Fletcher

Data and its use are pervasive in the digital economy. From online data mining to AI / ML-enhanced analytics, the range of data sources and tools available on the web is unlimited. Every digital user accessing the application, however, has the same privacy concerns.

Cybercrime has risen sharply in recent years, making online user information more sensitive than ever. Faced with these risks, organizations of all sizes and purposes should be committed to the ethical use of data as they better protect their information systems.

The process begins with understanding many of the privacy concerns that affect users when interacting with digital platforms. From fraud to data sales, users fear exploiting their information for purposes beyond their own best interests. Understand privacy concerns in data collection, then explore the ethical use of data through these actionable data applications. Doing so is not only good business sense; That is your moral responsibility to customers.

User privacy concerns

The first step in using data ethically is to address privacy concerns that are inherent with data collection and use. Implementing the wrong data privacy strategy could cost the organization billions of dollars in damages between cyber security efforts and ongoing efforts to bridge the privacy gap. Meanwhile, cyber-attack efforts are on the rise.

To address consumers’ concerns regarding data privacy, businesses must be prepared to face the biggest challenges involved in data privacy. These challenges include:

  • Embed data privacy – To best protect user data, identifiable factors must be hidden from the start. This requires the inclusion of privacy as an embedded aspect of data collection, not just the latter.
  • To safely include a range of devices – These days, remote work and bring-your-device (BYOD) policies add levels of network security concerns to the average data aggregation process. To be secure, data must pass through various devices and access points while maintaining privacy standards.
  • Protection of a constantly growing range of data – With big data changing the way we explore and extract information, it’s hard to measure the security that matches this growth. Doing so requires a culture of data accountability, including policies to minimize data storage and to eliminate excess or used information.

These are just a few of the many privacy concerns that come with data implementation for any business process. However, the scope of your data privacy concerns may also be affected by the rules that exist in your market.

For example, the European Union maintains the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines that apply the principles of transparency and data security to any information collected within the EU. Additionally, if you work in areas such as China or California, where additional data collection and privacy standards are emerging, a range of other guidelines may apply.

Failure to protect consumer data leads to all sorts of risks for consumers and companies alike. From compliance failure fees to damaged reputation, the cost of poorly managed data is usually too high for businesses to bear. Instead, organizations should adopt a commitment to the use of ethical data.

Using data ethically

An unethical approach to data has contributed to some of the worst accounting scams in human history. Take WorldCom, for example. The organization manipulated the financial statements on its income statements and balance sheets to better show its company investors. Through data manipulation, WorldCom bore these investors billions while the company incurred a loss of about $ 4 billion in accounting fraud.

Such scams damage the reputation of every organization that collects and implements data. Contrary to many of these beliefs, data can be used ethically. By nature, data supports all kinds of functionality and quality benefits for virtually any operation. That is because the data represents facts.

By structuring these raw facts into comprehensive software and silos for data management, researchers are better prepared to improve products, services, financial models and more.

Ethics is the basis for integrating these reforms. An ethical approach to the use of data can be defined as one that aims to improve value without putting consumers at greater risk. Such an approach adheres to privacy rules while constantly striving to improve the increasingly dangerous digital environment. You can also apply data ethically by trying to incorporate ethical principles into your use of information.

Across the data economy, experts have gathered consensus when it comes to ethical principles that guide data-based decision-making. These principles are:

  • Empathy – Data ultimately involves and affects humans. By focusing on the human at the center of every data transaction, analysts can make more ethical decisions when it comes to applying those data.
  • Data control – Our data is an extension of itself. In turn, organizations should prioritize user ownership and control of their own data. The user decides what they are comfortable with and the organizations should support it.
  • Transparency – Everyone is faced with Terms of Service (ToS) agreements that are too long and tedious for the average user to understand. The ethical approach of data management clarifies to the user what data is being collected and why.
  • Responsibility – The organization is responsible for maintaining the security of the information it collects. This means that a consistent, advanced security process must be maintained if data is to be used.
  • Equality – You may think that data cannot be biased, and while it may be true, it may be our means of collecting, collecting and enforcing data. Evaluate your process to make sure it does not reflect any kind of prejudice, conscious or unconscious.

By considering each instance of data application through the lens of these ethical principles, you can better address each of the privacy concerns that come with data collection. After all, businesses in the modern economy need customer trust that comes from a secure data management system. Use these tips and tools to make your data use more ethical.

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer passionate about workplace equity, and his published works cover sociology, technology, business, education, health and more.


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