FEATURE25 June 2020

Giving values a voice

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Ellis Parry joined the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as its first data ethics adviser at the end of 2019. Impact caught up with him to discuss how organisations can build a more ethical approach to data.

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What are your responsibilities, and what is the ICO’s role in this space?

My role is to articulate the interplay between the data protection principles over which the ICO has regulatory oversight and the emerging field of data ethics, and communicate and consult on those views, raising awareness and buy-in to the mutually reinforcing nature of the concepts underpinning each discipline.

The majority of people feel it’s important that companies use their data ethically, but few trust organisations to do this, according to Open Data Institute research. What needs to be done to build trust?

The ICO’s mission is to uphold information rights for the UK public in the digital age. The number one goal of the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan is to increase the public’s trust and confidence in how personal data is used and made available,  by creating a culture of transparency and accountability.

What are the key ethical blind spots for businesses and organisations?

These are quite context specific. Articulating their values, the principles ...