RD: Beyond the ‘Golden Rule’

by | Dec 16, 2019 | ICT4D |

Some days I think the idea of responsible data is a way of putting the ‘golden rule’ into practice with data. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Fairly straightforward, but also can be interpreted as a bit ‘colonial.’ I decide how you would like your data to be treated. I put my values on you. I know this not the idea behind the ‘golden rule’, but I’ve seen it lead us there.

What if we build on the ‘golden rule’ idea. Therefore, responsible data can build on the ‘golden rule’ to invoke thinking about others, but not stop there. What if we involve others?

Responsible data becomes a conversation, not just an act. Responsible data is not just treating your data, the way I would like my treated. We are different; especially when one of us is vulnerable in a particular way. We are different and we need to recognise and acknowledge this. Responsible data can be a set of principles and policies, but never should remain such. It is about application and in some sense, customisation in each context and each person.

Perhaps a place to start for many organisations could be regular reviews. Perhaps every quarter to start with until trust is built up. The review could be simple – this is the data we hold about you, this is how we use it, this is with whom we share it. Are you still ok with this? If no, tell us what you’d like us to change. Collectively, we’d need to figure out a process to do this without it being annoying, but I’m sure we can. We’d also need to figure out a way to do with with people who are not online. But again, I’m sure we can.

The ‘golden rule’ is helpful with getting organisations to realise that responsible data is not about them. It’s helps organisations realise responsible data is not just about reducing organisational risk. And yet, we need to ensure the application of the ‘golden rule’ is conversational and involves those about whom the data is.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Harli Marten


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