Why Are Data Ethics So Challenging in a Changing World?

We now live largely in a data-driven world, and ethical oversight and constraints are needed to be sure that data ethics can reach an appropriate balance between the risks and benefits of data technology. The goal is to control the risk, but to allow enough risk to make it possible to take advantage of any potential benefits of data technologies now or in the future. A comprehensive perspective on this topic, which focuses on the nature of data, personal data, data ownership, consent and purpose of use, trustworthiness of data and those using the data, and issues related to privacy and confidentiality is published in Big Data.

In the article entitled “Aspects of Data Ethics in a Changing World: Where Are We Now?” David Hand, PhD, Imperial College, London, U.K. discusses how the automation of measurement and data collection procedures, together with the development of vast capacity for inexpensive data storage and the creation of advanced tools for analyzing and processing data, is dramatically changing our world. These data capabilities have the potential to significantly improve the human condition, but they can also be misused. Among the factors that make data ethics in particular so challenging is their complexity and the fact that data and the tools to collect, interpret and use data are present in all aspects of our lives.

“In this article various aspects of principles for resolving ethical dilemmas were discussed, and related ethical codes were analyzed related to the nature of data–including the pervasiveness of data harvesting, the dynamic characteristics of data, interconnectedness of data across platforms and contexts, ability to reveal unexpected information, risk for exceptional intrusiveness, potential for misuse, and ownership issues,” says Big Data Editor-in-Chief Zoran Obradovic, PhD, Carnell Professor of Data Analytics, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

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