Do you know anything about data ethics?

Managing and analyzing corporate data is a key success factor. As a data professional or simple user, it's much more appreciated to focus primarily on the exciting aspects of what this data can bring, leaving aside the ethical implications of its use. The ethical use of data is just as important as the data itself. It is essential for companies to understand what data ethics are, and how they should be respected.

What is data data ethics?

Data ethics are complex moral and ethical issues related to the management, storage and sharing of data, as well as to data algorithms and related practices.

While companies and data scientists are naturally interested in the potential of megadata management, processing such vast quantities of data calls into question the ethical pitfalls and behavior of its users.

Why is data ethics important?

Through high-profile examples of misuse (e.g. the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which allowed a developer inappropriate access to the Facebook profiles of 87 million users), public confidence in data management has been shaken. While there remains some confusion around privacy regulations and laws, companies should have their own in-house code of ethical data management, both for the sense of pride in belonging to that company, but also to help retain the trust of their customers.

Key principles for data managers and users must take into account:


The main ethical and moral question surrounding data sharing is whether the practices put in place respect the privacy of an individual or group.

The main concern of any data user should focus on how data is used within the company, as misuse or poorly controlled use of data can impact entire communities or demographics.

In your business, you need to balance objectives and confidentiality, and draw up a specific plan every time you share data. You need to know why this data is being collected in the first place, how it is being managed, and whether it is ethically responsible in this case to disrupt the privacy of an individual or group...


Another way to respect user/customer data is through transparent practices. You must be totally transparent about :

  • What data is shared?
  • How are they shared and collected?
  • What will they be used for?
  • How can I withdraw from a data-sharing process? This should be easy and accessible whenever the other party wishes.


Transparency is the ethical behavior that maintains trust with the user, when you explain the process and let them know how it will work. On websites, this can take the form of contextual notifications explaining how data or "cookies" are used.

Monitoring and examination

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are constantly evolving. So there should be constant evaluation of your practices.

By creating a diverse ethics committee that meets periodically, you are able to evaluate and adapt ethical processes to current applications of evolving data management programs. You can shape future policies by evaluating past problems. You ensure that your data management always meets the highest ethical standards.


It's important that all data scientists and analysts, as well as companies, understand data management regulations to ensure compliance with legal (and ethical) guidelines.

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018. It has several objectives: to strengthen people's rights, make actors handling data more accountable, and establish enhanced cooperation between data protection authorities.


After considering policies and regulations, it's important that these laws are harmonized through fairness (and transparency).

It's essential to respect the law, but you also need to understand that it's often a minimum standard; laws have partly failed to keep pace with the modern, adaptive nature of many technical innovations. It is therefore important that you develop your own ethical frameworks, and that they are revised in line with this constant evolution.

To conclude data ethics

Data ethics are essential and should be maintained at all levels of a company. At 5 Degrés, we encourage our employees to be constantly aware of the ethical issues surrounding data. In concrete terms, within the Product Data practice, we devote a budget to training and acculturation of our employees on subjects linked to data governance, RGPD and data ethics.

Picture of Francis Prunier

Francis Prunier

Consultant Business Intelligence Pracice Product Data

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