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Welcome to the Ethical Tech Project
Introducing our newsletter and our vision for ethical data use in technology.
Data has become a dirty word.
That shouldn’t be the case.
It's been over a decade since the rise of Big Data began. Businesses moved mountains to capture mountains of data. They shoveled dollars into buying technologies that could help manage that data more efficiently and analyze it more effectively.
Yet, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park, our data scientists were so preoccupied with if they could, they never stopped to think if they should.
Much of the most useful data was and still is, personal data. It was often exchanged by everyday people in return for access to online services that they valued and loved. Sometimes that was an imbalanced trade, and people gave up more value than they realized. Sometimes data was collected on false pretenses and used for purposes other than stated. And too often, that data was not properly protected and leaked to bad actors.
So regulators stepped in. The first shoe to drop was GDPR. Then came California with CCPA. And now, in 2023, a slew of states and countries are legislating how data is used. At the same time, citizens became upset at the headlines: data breaches, dark patterns of data collection, and Cambridge Analytica, to name a few.
The thing is, most people love the products they consume online, and they’re more than happy to exchange some of their data in return for value. But they need protection too.
Now we stand on the next precipice of technologically enabled change, powered by AI and the large language models behind chatGPT. And we can not repeat the mistakes of the past.
That's why we started the Ethical Tech Project.
We believe in data dignity. When companies use people’s data, they are obligated to use it responsibly. Responsible use means people have permission and control over the use of their data and the value exchanged for it: when it’s used, how it’s used, and where it’s used. This is “data dignity.”
Our mission is to design, build, and implement a blueprint for the ethical use of data on the Internet.
Our vision is a future where humans have transparency and insight into how their data is controlled and used – so that fundamental rights are universally protected.
We're setting out to achieve this through:
Convening a community of the top technical minds in business, academia and government to coalesce around common-sense solutions to ethical data problems;
Advocating for recognition and adoption of ethical data standards in the expert tech community and driving awareness and education amongst the public and key stakeholders;
Educating consumers, business leaders, and technologists about ethical data practices; and
Implement both technical and non-technical blueprints to establish a shared parlance and vision for ethical data.
Want more details? We'll be releasing more about our signature efforts - The Privacy Stack and the Commitment to the Ethical Use of Data in the coming months, right here in this newsletter.
In the meantime, read a few opinion pieces penned by our leaders and advisors over the past few months:
Data shouldn't be a dirty word. Let's regain control of how, when, and why data is collected and help businesses use that data responsibly.
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