Ethics and Data Science – Navigate Complexity of Privacy Bias and Transpire

In today’s data-driven world, it’s critical for businesses to ethically gather, use, and protect personal information. The field of data ethics explores this issue.

A growing number of organizations are developing Data Ethics guidelines to help safeguard individuals’ privacy, and to ensure fairness in the way they’re treated.


De-identification is the process of removing or disabling identifiers to ensure the privacy of individuals. It is often used in research contexts to remove identifying information such as names or social security numbers from data sets.

When it comes to healthcare, de-identification is a critical step in keeping patient data private and safe for sharing under HIPAA regulations. This allows providers to share information with medical researchers and other organizations to advance tools and treatments that will benefit patients.

To comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, covered entities may use one of two methods to satisfy the de-identification standard: Expert Determination or Safe Harbor.

Under the expert determination method, an expert determines whether there is a risk that personal health information could be re-identified. The covered entity is informed of this risk by the expert. If the risk is low, the covered entity may simply remove certain identifiers to ensure that they are not uniquely identifiable. If the risk is higher, the covered entity must modify the identifiers to lower the risk of identification.

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Intentions Matter

Using Intent data in your marketing and sales campaigns can give you insight into when a target account or prospect is actively considering your product, or is looking for similar ones. This can help you target campaigns with the right timing, context and relevance.

It can also identify accounts that are not ready to buy yet – allowing you to target campaigns to them at a different time. This can increase conversions and sales productivity.

Intent data is typically paired with firmographic, technographic, and other data points to narrow down the list of accounts that are a good fit for your solution.

A company selling soil analysis software in the Napa wine country can use intent data to flag trends that are out of kilter with their market, and pivot quickly before it’s too late. This can allow them to be ready for a slowdown in the economy and get ahead of new opportunities if they pop up.

Privacy Bias

Privacy bias is a major concern for companies using data to train AI models. It can skew the results of the algorithm and negatively impact individuals.

While it’s a difficult problem to address, organizations can take steps to prevent privacy bias by protecting the data they collect, building a strong data privacy culture, and creating safeguards for data owners.

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Another way to protect privacy is to limit the amount of data that’s collected, particularly in large-scale implementations. The more data you feed into a machine learning model, the greater the risk that it will be affected by bias.

It’s also important to distinguish between Type A and Type B bias, the first is a more direct effect of the data set and the second is more complex. This distinction is especially relevant for algorithms that use artificial intelligence (AI). It means that a system can only be fixed by making more accurate decisions about the data set, but it’s impossible to fix the more intangible Type B component of a bias.


While data science has its fair share of controversy, ethics is not far behind. A recent survey by the Irish Centre for Ethics in Media and Technology (ICEMT) found that there is a definite appetite among industry leaders to talk about how their algorithms might impact public perceptions of race, gender, religion or disability.

The most notable ethical challenge in data science is that it has the potential to exacerbate existing discriminatory biases. A machine learning algorithm can easily be programmed to ignore data that doesn’t meet its criteria, such as a person’s gender or race, and this can have negative consequences on the human population at large.

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While this isn’t a new problem, it has gained a bit of attention in the past few years as a result of increased awareness of privacy regulations and the emergence of AI as an unstoppable force in many industries. This is especially true in areas like healthcare, where the use of AI can have disastrous effects on patients and their caregivers. A robust and well-defined code of ethics is the foundation for navigating these complex issues, ensuring that technology is used responsibly and ethically.

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