Doing Good With Data: the case for the ethical Data Scientist

This post is designed to accompany my presentation to the Teradata Partners User Group, but hopefully some of the links will prove useful even if you couldn’t get to the presentation itself.

Needless to say, the most important part – the Pledge – is right at the bottom.  Feel free to skip to it if you like!


The law (as it relates to data – well actually pretty much all law) is complex, highly jurisdictional, and most importantly of all at least 10 years behind reality.  Neither Judy or I are lawyers, but hopefully these links provide some general background:

One of the first legal agreements was the OECD’s position on data transfers between countries. It dates from the early 70s, when flares were hot and digital watches were the dream of a young Douglas Adams:

Much later the EU released the snappily titled EU 95/46/EC – better known as the Data Directive. The joy is that each country can implement it differently, resulting in confusion.  There are currently proposals out for consultation on updating it too:

Of course the EU and the US occasionally come to different decisions, and for a brief discussion of some of the major differences between them you can try this:

Don’t do evil

Google’s famous take on the hypocratic oath can be simplified as ‘don’t do evil’. As we say in the presentation, this is necessary, but scarcely enough.  It also has the disadvantage of being passive. In it’s expanded form it’s available here:

Doing Good With Data

Now for the fun bits!  For information on the UN Global Pulse initiative: 

Data 4 Development – the Orange France Telecom initiative in Ivory Coast:

If you have a bent for European socialised medecine, then the NHS hack days are here:


And our favourite – with a big thanks to Jake Porway and Craig Barowsky – is DataKind: You can also follow @DataKind

To find out more about the UK charities mentioned check out Place2Be and KeyFund

Please take the time to register with DataKind, and keep your eyes open for other opportunities.  We hope that DataKind will be open for business in the UK too soon!

The Pledge

Please go and look at the Pledge, and if you think you can, then sign up.  If you have one of our printed cards, take it, sign it and put it on your cube wall (or your refrigerator – wherever it will remind you of your commitment). But sign the online one too.  And one you’ve done that, let the world know! Get them to sign up. If you want a Word copy of the printable one just drop me a line.