Social Data Law, Policy, and Ethics

Don Heider, and Judy Selby Discuss the Gray Areas Around the Ethical Use of Social Data

 @donheider and @judy_selby Discuss Social Data Law, Policy, and Ethics

Why Privacy Matters

Privacy and data seem to go hand in hand. With the emergence of more social platforms on the rise, the challenge that organizations, businesses and non-profits face is being able to share this data collectively and responsibly. Some have actively discussed how there is a growing need for a code of ethics around data privacy that needs to be enforced and shared amongst all parties that hope to access the data. By having such a document outlined it makes it easier to safeguard the privacy of users whose data is being stored and shared amongst third party organizations. This leads to a bigger discussion around privacy laws especially with social networks that access third party sites in order to create accounts and content.

Next Steps in Data Protection

What are the next steps for protecting consumer information and ensuring personal data is being shared for the benefit of everyone? This is a contested debate amongst private companies, the government, and academics and nonprofits alike. While there may not be one clear answer, clearly having an idea and addressing the common problems that might arise is a good first step. According to Don, ethical discussions are not meant to be black and white. One thing is clear though, organizations of all sizes have a responsibility for ensuring personal information is safeguarded. Take an example that Susan brought to light; Borders who sold customer data with regards to the types of books consumers purchase may not seem like a big deal but when it infringes on the privacy of certain parties or individuals based on their medical conditions as an example, it becomes a bigger dilemma.

Responsibilities for Everyone

Examples like Borders are why it’s important when developing any kind of policy or regulation to ensure the primary stakeholders are involved in the discussion beforehand. By getting ahead of the discussions before issues arise, companies and organizations can begin to identify trends and core issues that could potentially be damaging if not addressed sooner.

Failing to address issues of consumer data privacy not only breaks the trust of the consumer in the company they have come to buy from but also creates mistrust of the larger marketplace. A result of  breaking this trust is that some consumers have decided to shop with competing brands rather than buying from a company they’ve used for years.

Along these lines, the major questions that some organizations consider when it comes to data is:

Is it a benefit to the customer that we collect the data or just to us? And if we woke up in the morning to see this in the news would be happy about it?

Our Collective Obligation

Any time consumer data whether our own or someone else’s is at stake, it becomes the obligation of all parties to determine how to best safeguard it from falling within the wrong hands. By having these clear terms of service on websites, social media platforms, and other places it aides in creating the level of trust consumers are expecting on behalf of organizations of all sizes.

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