Three Laws of Data Ethics

  1. Data belongs to those it’s about.

  2. Data must be clear.

  3. Data should be open, unless that would cause harm.

Data belongs to those it’s about.

The data anyone collects about me, is mine.  I should be able to get it, have it deleted, or comment on it without hindrance.  I should be actively made aware of data about me, and where I can access it.

Data must be clear

Data must describe itself – and inform any users of it of what it is, when it was collected, by whom, and for what purpose.  It should include who is allowed to use it, and under what conditions.  It should be obvious in its intent.

Data should be open, unless that would cause harm

Open data by default means potential harm will be much better understood, as we will consider the risks more clearly.  Data should be closed only when the harm to an individual or to society is greater than the harm of secrecy.  Hiding the existence of data, rather than just the data itself should be held to an even higher bar.

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