If you live in a part of England (York), it is legal to kill a Scotsman with a bow and arrow, just not on Sunday. This is a bizarre old law that is still in place. Therefore, it is legal, but is it ok or moral to do?
Most of us would answer ‘no’ it is not moral to do so. Generally, when asked about killing another person or stealing from another, we tend not to ask if it is legal. We tend to answer from our belief system, our view of what is and isn’t moral, or the ‘right’ thing to do. Most laws are made to enforce the moral view of a community or group of persons. (And yes, it should be pointed out that it is usually views of the powerful, the rich, the privileged of the community that get enshrined into law first, not the vulnerable.)
So in the humanitarian space what are our morals when it comes to data management? Is it moral to collect lots of personal and sensitive data about vulnerable people and share it with lots of others? Is it moral to keep data for 5, 7, 10 years after a project is finished? Do we think it is moral to collect lots of data and never let the people about whom it is have access to it?
Even if it is legal to do so?
Too often data management discussions are driven by business finance and legal/risk/compliance. Perhaps it’s time to add morality back into the discussions?
Morality and legality should intersect