Big data analyticsData collection and analysis is inseparable from modern business. You’d be hard-pressed to find a medium or large-sized company that didn’t gather data these days. As customer information plays a more prominent role in industry, though, data ethics becomes a more pressing concern.

You’ll hear more and more people talk about data ethics today. It’s certainly getting a lot of press, but does it affect your company that much? How concerned should you be about how your business handles data ethics?

If you don’t already, you need to practice ethical data management at all levels. It’s essential for any company today, and this trend will only grow. Here’s why.

Consumer Relations

Practicing good data ethics is a smart business decision. When you’re careful with and respectful of people’s personal information, they’ll appreciate it, so you build loyalty. On the flip side, unethical data governance can harm your company’s public image.

Just think about how the Cambridge Analytica scandal affected Facebook. After the scandal became public knowledge in 2018, 32% of Facebook users stopped using the site as often. As the issue continued into 2019, that number jumped to 38% of users.

As the public becomes more aware of how much of their data is available, they’ll take it more seriously. Consumers will expect more from brands, so if you don’t showcase respectable data ethics, it could mean less profit. If you want to retain loyal customers, especially in the future, you need to use their data ethically.


Data governance is starting to become a legal matter in some areas as well. Europe led the way with the GDPR, and California followed suit with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This precedent of legally mandating how companies handle data will likely lead to more laws.

If you do any business in these areas, you already have to comply with these regulations. Even if you don’t, you should consider reviewing your data ethics in case you ever want to expand. It’s not out of the question that national data privacy laws could come to America soon, either.

You should note here that these current regulations don’t necessarily cover data ethics. Instead, they’re about data privacy, which is part of ethics, but not all of it. Practicing more ethical behavior, though, will help you stay in the clear as far as privacy laws go.

Implementing Data Ethics

So if you hope to stay in business in the future, you’ll need to handle data ethically. How do you do that, though?

How you can protect people’s data depends on what you need from it. Whatever you collect and whatever you do with it, you should be transparent, though. If you’re honest about what you record and use from the beginning, customers will think highly of you.

Privacy by Design (PbD) is another good idea. If you have set privacy protocols from the start, it’ll be easier to expand or modify your data governance. Adding new regulations on after the fact could be challenging.

If you use any algorithms or AI to analyze your data, audit it now and then. Unchecked, AI can exaggerate innate human biases, which can lead to a PR disaster. Establish an ethics committee to check on things like that and keep you in the clear.

Ethical Data Governance Helps Everyone

When you practice respectable data ethics, all parties benefit from it. Your customers will be happy that you’re keeping their private information safe. You’ll benefit from a loyal consumer base and the selling point of ethical data use.

Data ethics is already a prevalent concern, and that’ll be doubly true in a few years. If you take steps to clean up your data governance today, though, you have nothing to worry about. Data will drive the future, so data ethics will save it.