Great technology is thinking about digital ethics, and small businesses must keep up – Mash Viral

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From Google’s commitment to responsible technology to Microsoft’s guidelines for “ethical and reliable AI,” it is now the norm to see a great technological commitment to digital ethics.

The concepts of “ethical frameworks” or “responsible innovation” may seem nebulous, but now it is also up to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to ensure that the technology they implement is used ethically.

Speaking at a conference in London, Simon McDougall, executive director of the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) of the United Kingdom, said: “Digital ethics needs to go beyond organizations that have the resources to think about it, and push to the real world of small businesses. “

SEE: Digital transformation: a CXO guide (ZDNet special report) | Download the report in PDF (TechRepublic)

An important obstacle is that ethical technology remains an abstract concept debated in conference rooms; a conversation that needs “more operationalization,” according to McDougall.

In the United Kingdom, several institutions are trying to provide guidelines and frameworks for responsible deployment of innovation.

The AI ​​Office, for example, details the four principles of equity, responsibility, sustainability and transparency; while the ethics and data intelligence center regularly reports on topics ranging from online guidance to surveillance algorithms.

And the largest technology companies with greater resources increasingly show their commitment to comply with digital ethics. Apple, for example, recently renewed its privacy page, a movement that simply continues with the crusade of digital privacy that it has led over the years.

Intel’s human rights policy includes a section stating that the company will refuse to sign agreements when it becomes aware “of the concern that a business partner is using Intel products in relation to human rights abuses.”

And the Aviva insurance company recently published a one-page customer data letter along with an explanatory video to detail how it uses personal information, “instead of long privacy policies that nobody reads,” said the chief data scientist at The company, Orlando Machado.

For McDougall, however, this is just the tip of the iceberg. “We hear from Microsoft and Intel about what they are doing and how they are implementing ethics,” he said, “but there are many smaller organizations that are far from thinking about these things.”

As an example of a positive development, he points out the GDPR regulation introduced last year in the EU, and which provides more practical guidelines to ensure ethical business and privacy protection.

SEE: Guide for IT professionals for GDPR compliance (Free PDF)

However, even GDPR standards are struggling to find control over SMEs. A survey conducted this year among 716 small businesses in Europe showed that there was a widespread ignorance about data security tools and a lack of compliance with key privacy provisions.

Approximately half of the respondents believed that their organizations complied with the new rules, although only 9% could identify which end-to-end encrypted email service they used.

44% said they did not trust that they always obtained consent or determined a legal basis before using personal data.

SEE: 2020 Predictions: privacy and data ethics take marketing to the boardroom

However, the problem is not goodwill: more than half of respondents reported spending between € 1,000 (£ 845) and € 50,000 (£ 42,252) in compliance with the GDPR, which included consultants and technology.

Sue Daley, associate director of TechUK, said: “We have to make SMEs ask themselves:” How does ethics apply to me? It’s a question that larger companies are analyzing, but more needs to be done to make it real for smaller organizations. “

As technology becomes more sophisticated and finds new applications, digital ethics will only grow in importance. But it seems that the implementation process will require more regulation, less abstract patterns and a dose of realism.

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