GDPR and privacy laws including the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are driving firms to consider ethics as a competitive edge. Innovative brands are focusing on differentiation through ethics teams, ethical review committees, and data ethics officers that understand the implications of machine learning or algorithms on customer trust and business outcomes.
As data privacy takes center stage, leadership executives have a huge responsibility for enforcing the ethical use of data. They need to oversee organized data management while enabling their organizations to transform this information into real business value.
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Balancing benefits and risks through data
Organizational teams are tasked to turn data into something of value. CIOs must assist these teams in creating something beneficial to the industry at large while mitigating the risk associated when data is used. An ethics review committee needs to ensure there is no undue risk on individual data.
As companies create AI-powered tools, technology leaders have a social responsibility to limit bias.
Using data ethically is necessary for internal purposes, as well. Marketing agencies should consider how much personally identifiable information (PII) is needed to create impactful advertisements. If tech leaders here don’t consider how the organization manages data, the results can be dangerous for the people involved.
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Before using customer data, technology leaders need to ensure they don’t inadvertently discriminate, stigmatize, or otherwise cause any harm to individuals. This kind of balancing act is tied to concepts of utilitarianism — is the most relevant to global data ethics.
To strike the right balance and use data with ethics in mind, CIOs should consider the following practices:
Ethics checks balancing lower risks
Technology leaders should perform privacy impact analyses that can estimate the inherent risks of specific technologies. Also, it should examine compliances, with adequate controls.
CIOs must advocate for an ethics review committee creation comprising of people with ethics experience, who can institute good governance and strict policies to consider whether or not an organization’s data practice mitigates individual risk.
Ethical data use leading to sustainable innovation
When companies achieve sustained innovation, technological advancement often turns beneficial for society. Innovation that doesn’t reinforce ethics causes delays and unsuccessful implementation trials. Facial recognition technology, for instance, has not undergone the requisite ethical impact analyses and is facing challenges now. Similar laws have been recently enacted in San Francisco to curtail any advancement that may have happened with more ethically sound products.
Tech leaders must understand the risks of their data use and mitigate them as much as possible.
If CIOs fail to build ethics compliance into their teams’ processes, they will not be able to sustain innovations or deliver long-term benefits to society.