Category Archives: Ethics

Look to Baseball for an Example of Accountability Oversight

One of the ways to enhance the trustworthiness of accountability processes is for there to be oversight of the accountability process.  Sometimes this oversight concept is difficult to understand or is misunderstood because organizations worry that what is meant is second guessing of the results of the accountability process.  One of the requirements of accountability is having in place systems for internal ongoing oversight and assurance reviews and external verification.  A recent IAF blog asked verification of what? External oversight of demonstrable processes is not a review of every decision but rather a validation of the processes behind the decisions. What does this mean?  Minor league baseball provides an example.

This season the independent Atlantic League of Minor League Baseball first used a computer to call balls and strikes in its All Star Game.  The plate umpire wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket and relayed the call upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.  After its successful “tryout” in the All Star Game, the “automated ball-strike system” (ABSS) was implemented for the rest of the season.  It is anticipated that after the bugs are worked out (for example, ABSS deems a bounced ball that crosses the plate as a strike), the ABSS may be “tried out” in the Major League. 

Some will say this example is not relevant because a baseball player’s statistics, such as batting averages, are not personal information.  Baseball players have given the Major League Baseball Players Association the right to license their names and statistics.  Others argue that the use of baseball players names and statistical information should be freely available under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Whatever the legal theory, the calling of balls and strikes is part of a baseball player’s statistics.  Does he strike out a lot?  Does he walk a lot?

So how does the use of the ABSS in Minor League Baseball demonstrate oversight is of the assessment process and not of the assessment?  When the season is over, Major League Baseball will look at how accurate the ABSS was in calling balls and strikes over the season.  Major League Baseball doesn’t care what the results were with respect to a particular player or a particular team or a particular game.  But it does care how accurate overall the ABSS was and whether the results were achieved with integrity and without bias. 

This is what is meant by overseeing the assessment process.  The overseer should not care about the results of a particular assessment.  It should care, however, about whether overall the process was followed, whether overall the results were fair and whether the process overall had integrity and wasn’t biased.  When the oversight function works in this manner, the trustworthiness of the accountability processes is enhanced.

Let’s play ball!    

Evolving Ethical Data Impact Assessments

Last fall, the Information Accountability Foundation (IAF) completed work, commissioned by the Office of the Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, that explored what Ethical Data Stewardship would consist of and what an Ethical Data Impact Assessment would look like. As Hong Kong Commissioner Wong so aptly put, “In order to encourage innovation in… Continue Reading

IAF Issues “Trusted Digital Transformation, Considerations for Canadian Public Policy”

Many consider Canadian privacy law as the pragmatic mid-point between European omnibus rights driven data protection and U.S. sectoral privacy laws balanced against free expression and risk of harm.  The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is probably the cleanest translation of the OECD Guidelines into law and by extension is a principles-based… Continue Reading

Information Policy – The Transition from 2018 to 2019

The transition for information policy from 2018 to 2019 might best be characterized as out with the year of the lion and in with the year of the juiced-up lion. Further, given the complexities and tensions in play, the juiced-up lion may morph into a hybrid. 2018 came in with the heavy task of compliance… Continue Reading

Data Ethics Must Translate into Sound Business Process

Many of the world’s privacy, technology, and policy experts are in Brussels this week for the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.  The conference theme this year is Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life.  The question is can ethics, not mandated by law, fill the gap between legal requirements… Continue Reading

Evolving Accountability to Ethical Data Stewardship – A Key Part of Wave Four Privacy Laws

In order to encourage innovation in their regions, digital information strategies are being adopted which recognize that the internet and digital technologies are transforming the world. These strategies address the needs of business, government and the public to impact the competitiveness of their country’s economy, while recognizing the protection of personal data and fair data… Continue Reading

Martin Abrams’ Remarks — 39th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

My thanks to the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners and to our colleagues at the Hong Kong Commission for this opportunity to discuss data ethics. I would also like to dedicate this session to Joe Alhadeff who recently passed after a long battle with cancer. Joe was a wise friend to us… Continue Reading

IAF Releases Ethical Guidance for Artificial Intelligence at Commissioners’ Conference

The terms ethics and ethical data processing are in vogue. With the rapid growth of innovative data-driven technologies and the application of these innovations to areas that can have a material impact on people’s daily lives, enhanced corporate governance focused on ethical objectives is needed. Particularly where data enabled decisions are made without the intervention… Continue Reading

A Data Protection Risk Assessment Is About Ethics – Join IAF Webinar

A Data Protection Risk Assessment Is About Ethics —- Join IAF Webinar Webinar September 6, 2017 We have never read a privacy or data protection law that requires controllers be ethical. Yet implicitly new laws are driving expectations that organizations using data robustly do so in an ethical fashion. What does that mean? The European… Continue Reading

The Need for An Ethical Framework

The vast amount of data made possible and accessible through today’s information technologies, and the ever-increasing analytical capabilities of this data, are unlocking tremendous insights that are enabling new solutions to health challenges, business models, personalization and benefits to individuals and society. At the same time, new risks to individuals can be created. Against this… Continue Reading