Data’s role in our lives has increased but regulators are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. It’s clear that the UK, like many other countries, is facing a data and technology governance gap. This is why a cross-party inquiry from Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics is researching clearer principles and best practice standards for data use.
To remain at the forefront of the technological global race, the UK – through both public and private enterprise – must address ethical concerns now, rather than fix problems as they arise and be left on the back foot. The Data and Technology Ethics Inquiry will concentrate on the areas of trust, ethics and good governance. This includes public trust, business confidence, and the trade-offs between privacy and progress that are inherent in technology developments and big data. The research will also examine the need for good governance in the tech sphere and accountability and redress when the first line of trust is broken.
With the backing of Jisc, Deloitte and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the inquiry will focus on areas of society that feel the huge benefits of using data and technology, but also demonstrate unique ethical concerns around privacy, lack of transparency in algorithm bias, surveillance, and potential for fraud and exploitation. Professor Marina Jirotka of ORBIT and Oxford University (pictured above) sits on the Steering Committee and commented ‘It’s essential that these technologies are considered in advance – this is the only way in which to ameliorate the potential harms that they can cause’.
Its recommendations will be targeted to advise the newly-established Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.
Notes to editors
ORBIT is the Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT. Led by Oxford and De Montfort Universities and funded in the launch phase by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), ORBIT provides policy advice, training on responsible research and innovation (RRI), consultancy, project assessment, support services, and an online community for ICT researchers.
Marina Jirotka is the Professor of Human-Centred Computing at the University of Oxford. She is chiefly concerned with bringing a richer comprehension of socially organised work practice into the process of engineering technological systems with a focus on supporting everyday work and interaction.