What Is Considered An Ethical Use Of Data?
This post was inspired by my classmate Bruce when he said:
In a world where data is golden, why use so much resource to gather it and then be ethically restrained from not giving it to a third party who may use the data more efficiently than you?
In other words, is selling people’s data to another company always wrong?
In my attempt to answer, I thought it could only be wrong when the data is misused by the buyer so what could be the worst-case scenario of data misusage, and what could lead to that?
Last week news circulated that the most popular lifestyle Muslim App with over 98 million downloads (Muslim Pro) was selling users' data to the U.S military, data that assist on overseas special forces operations … sounds alarming!
Now of course the App denied the allegations and turns out through Motherboard investigation that the App’s data partner X-Mode a location data firm that has sold information to, among other clients, defense contractors, and ultimately the U.S. military.
But who is to be blamed here?
Well everyone is to be blamed here
Even though the data broker (X-Mode) was transparent about what data they are not gathering which is personally identifiable information (PII), they failed to mention that they collect data like the name of the WiFi network the phone is connected to, a timestamp, and information about the phone like its model.
So what is the point?
The point is how will this data be used
The data broker (X-Mode)told Motherboard in a statement that “X-Mode licenses its data panel to a small number of technology companies that may work with government military services, but our work with such contractors is international and primarily focused on three use cases: counter-terrorism, cybersecurity and predicting future COVID-19 hotspots.”