In order to generate the gains that can come from analysing and linking big datasets, data holders need to consider the ethical frameworks, principles and applications that help to maintain public trust. In the USA, the National Science Foundation helped to set up a Council for Big Data, Ethics and Society, of which there is no equivalent in the UK. In November 2015, the Royal Statistical Society convened a workshop of 28 participants from government, academia and the private sector, and discussed the practical priorities that might be assisted by a new Council of Data Ethics in the UK. This article draws together the views from that meeting. Priorities for policy-makers and others include seeking a public mandate and informing the terms of the social contract for use of data; building professional competence and due diligence on data protection; appointment of champions who are competent to address public concerns; and transparency, across all dimensions. For government data, further priorities include improvements to data access, and development of data infrastructure. In conclusion, we support the establishment of a national Data Ethics Council, alongside wider and deeper engagement of the public to address data ethics dilemmas.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘The ethical impact of data science’.
One contribution of 15 to a theme issue ‘The ethical impact of data science’.
- Accepted May 31, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.