The Charity Digital Podcast returns for another instalment, with this episode continuing our discussion of digital ethics within the charity sector.
This week’s episode is titled: ‘Safeguarding the sector: Ethical data use’. By the very nature of the work that we do, charities carry the responsibility of upholding and demonstrating ethical behaviour. In order to carry out our work successfully, charities need the trust of their supporters and the general public. Their ethical conduct extends to digital ethics, as outlined by the Charity Digital Code of Practice.
“Why are we talking about data? Let’s go back to the problems in your organisation you’re seeking to solve, and let’s see how you can be more effective, better serve the people you’re seeking to serve, rather than looking at data as something that is sitting over here as a big treasure trove and as something to be kind without, kind of, understanding why.”
- Julie Dodd
Charities have adopted the principle of ‘do no harm’ into their field operations. How can this be applied to their digital output? And do charities have an ethical obligation to safeguard how any innovations stemming from their use of digital could be applied in the future?
This episode continues our previous discussion, with a specific focus on the ethical use of data. Charities have a responsibility to safeguard sensitive supporter or beneficiary data - especially when this data extends to vulnerable service users.
Discussion focuses on machine-learning and predictive data models. Often, we look at these models to give us insight into the future, but Giselle Cory argues that really what they provide us with is a record of the past. This brings to light one of the subject’s central ethical questions: how can charities use data in a way that drives more effective service, but does not become prescriptive, or marginalise those deemed by the model not to be priorities? What are the ethical ramifications of using tech to predict the future, when we are not fully aware of the extent to which these predictive models are shaping that future?
The podcast also examines related ethical obligations for data scientists, such as factoring for inherent bias, and the difficulty of future-proofing people’s privacy when we don’t know how data will be applied in the future.
Johnathan Chevallier welcomes Giselle Cory (Executive Director of Datakind), Chris Martin (CEO of The Mix) and James Mullarkey (Head of Digital at The British Veterinary Association) for the first instalment of an informative and thought-provoking discussion.
You can listen to the episode below:
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