The Loud Silence of Digital Ethics  in personal data mobile apps

Digital Ethics DNA: still unknown.

Technology made it possible to have the world at a fingerprint. As a result, every day, millions of users leave their marks in the digital world, making it possible for companies to frame them into predictive, insightful “little boxes”. The question of whether it is for good or not will depend on how they will use this information. Is our personal information treated and used with ethics? Beyond what the law says, personal data and privacy regulations such as the GDPR or CCPA, we all have an inner sense of what is right and what is wrong. Digital Ethics is something that we all wish to believe in, but few know about it.

The Loud Silence of Digital Ethics  in personal data mobile apps

Futurists foresee a world where everything would be technology-enabled. Some even picture it as the perfect utopia. A world where criminals would be caught before they even act. Where patients would be cured before they get sick. And where everyone would find love. A world governed by justice, health and ideal match. A perfect world… or maybe not?

While striving for this world, the line between right and wrong became blurred. And all of a sudden, what was supposed to turn into a dream ended up reflecting an alternative nightmare: a world that could be governed by “secret” mass surveillance, biased algorithms, and companies leveraging personal and health data to increase their profits; convincing themselves that they are, ultimately, doing it for the “greater good”. Does the end justify the means though?

Much has been said about technology enhancement, the power of personal data in enabling personalized services, offering, care and treatment. Unevenly, opening-up the Digital Ethics Pandora box is a taboo. Without any further delay, now may be the time.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It always starts with a good idea. “Make the world a better place”. “Save the world”. Yet most of the time, without a strong ethic to frame it, even ideas that started with a “don’t be evil” mantra are doomed to perdition. Almost everyone has lost faith in the very notion of privacy. Trust needs restoring. As being “data plumbers” at Pryv, we see it a lot happening with personal data collected via mobile applications. Inspired to make a big change, however, innovators often lose themselves in what is right and what is not. It is not that the technology or the idea behind it is necessarily bad in itself. But like everything, if you don’t know your limits, you will eventually end up beyond them.

Despite often being hidden behind numbers, personal data can reveal a lot about individuals. What people eat, where they go, who they love. In a perfect world, these data would be used to suggest the perfect restaurant, optimize transportation, pay for what you use, not more and save us from a life of loneliness. In today’s world though, this same data can equally be used to escalate insurance pricing, enact citizens’ surveillance, and manipulate thoughts and behaviours on command. And without the enforcement of a strong ethics to surround personal data collection, this might just become our permanent future.

The Yin & Yang in Digital Ethics.

We can envision two mirroring worlds where the border line is Digital Ethics. On one side, being mindful of what is right can open up a world where we will all be doing well, healthier people and happier insurers, empowered citizens and fairer judges. Or, on the mirroring side where the code of digital ethics is not respected, we can end up in a world where we are all prisoners of our own digital twin. A world governed by fear, predictability and surveillance capitalism.

So which one is it going to be? At Pryv, we envision a world where Privacy is the norm. And while it is true that we cannot control the future, we are still empowered to make decisions today that can allow for better privacy tomorrow. In fact, it is that simple: it is a matter of choice to do it; nothing more, nothing less. Let’s build a world where treating users with respect will pay back: so be transparent, consent-centric, restore trust and build meaningful relationships with your users. 

Since 2012, at Pryv, we deliver businesses a solution to empower them building trustful long-lasting relationships with their users, manage personal and sensitive data rightfully, being confident in processing, but not « shy » for asking for more. More data brings more insights and we are all willing to share more when we trust. 

The first step is always the hardest, but we got your hand:

Privacy-first Digital Ethics Handbook.

    1. Respect the moral principles: apply the “do no harm” principle to personal data.
    2. Establish norms dedicated to ensure that the autonomy and dignity of users is respected: Provide your development team with the tools to implement it “rightly”.
    3. Allow your users to shape the debate and make informed choices.

The Personal Data Economy is Raising! We are offered a lot, but we have lost the essentials. Be that service provider that is there to last. Respect Digital Ethics, Develop privacy-first. 


Stephanie & Evelina

“Personal data aggregation, sharing and processing should be as effective, secure and trustworthy as online banking. In this new paradigm, privacy is not a compliance tick box but an opportunity to break data silos, differentiate products and services, and attract end-users with trust, transparency and empowerment.” Pryv 

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