Yesterday I wrote about how the failure of companies to respect the privacy and happiness of their customers posed an existential threat to the entirety of services that relied on big data.
Some folks on twitter remarked that my Data Scientist Hippocratic Oath is what their companies live and breathe.
— Peter Skomoroch (@peteskomoroch) November 20, 2014
And that’s great. I think that protecting user-data aligns with being a great company… And I think a great company sometimes may need to be explicit about how it thinks about user data.
Juliet asked how does this apply when the customer isn’t a person? I guess we need to refine the oath to be a little bit more specific – instead of customers we should talk about people.
- I will do no intentional harm. I will not knowingly manipulate people to be unhappy or sad or miserable without their explicit clear and obvious consent
- I will never use our data in ways that are not aligned with the
customerneeds of the person whose data this is.
- The company is not the customer, and if I must choose the
customer needs pperson whose data this is over the company I will always choose the person. My job is to protect the user’s data not the company’s survival
And while I called out uber and facebook in my post, it’s only fair to share with folks that Facebook has been working to create a better code for it’s data science efforts described here and that the folks at Uber have hired an outside team to look at their approach to privacy.
I believe the self-interest of companies with vast amounts of data that we want to be kept private will ensure that the data is private because if it isn’t we will have encryption deployed everywhere. And I am delighted to see that happening.
And we’re seeing that. We, as users, need to demand that kind of data protection. The alternative is what happens in medicine where data is so regulated that our ability to fight diseases is being impaired.