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Ethical Trust Mark Promotes Fair Data Use For Australian Businesses

2 November 2018 at 6:05 pm
Luke Michael
Australian consumers will be able to identify which companies handle personal data ethically and securely through a new consumer trust mark.

Luke Michael | 2 November 2018 at 6:05 pm


Ethical Trust Mark Promotes Fair Data Use For Australian Businesses
2 November 2018 at 6:05 pm

Australian consumers will be able to identify which companies handle personal data ethically and securely through a new consumer trust mark.     

The Fair Data mark – akin to the Fairtrade Mark – will be given to ethical organisations that have committed to 10 Fair Data principles and passed an independent audit.

Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS) launched the certification program on Thursday, and AMSRS CEO Elissa Molloy said until now, there had been no easy way to know if an organisation could be trusted to use people’s personal data in an ethical way.

She said the scheme strongly supported high standards for the protection of data and personal information.

“Critically it empowers consumers to make educated choices about their personal data. If they deal with a Fair Data organisation, they can have confidence their information is safe,” Molloy said.

“You might consider it unlikely that misuse of your data could occur but breaches do occur and often you just won’t know.

“The Cambridge Analytica scandal, where 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested in major data breach, was a clear demonstration of the risks and showed the importance of ensuring that you deal with companies that handle your data ethically.”

The scheme will initially target the market and social research industry, but all organisations – both in the public and private sector – which collect and use personal data are encouraged to become accredited.

Dr Rebecca Huntley, one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends, told Pro Bono News this scheme was something people in the market and social research industry had talked about for a long time.

I think the industry’s professional standards are pretty good. But this is a proactive step to get research professionals thinking about these things systematically and to educate our clients more precisely on these issues,” Huntley said.

“The Fair Data mark is something that everybody from consumers to people who participate in research welcome, and obviously their trust in our processes is critical to make sure we can continue to actually do research.”

Huntley said like with the Fairtrade Mark, Fair Data would allow consumers concerned about the ethical use of data to make an informed choice about which businesses they hand over information to.  

“It would be wonderful to see other organisations take this on because we’ve got a lot of evidence that there’s declining trust in businesses,” she said.

“And that’s for lots of reasons. But how businesses handle someone’s personal information is a facet in whether you trust an organisation or not.

“This codified standard of behaviour that is independently audited… is an easy way for consumers to say ‘alright well these people are doing the right thing’.”

She added the scheme was about preparing businesses for an imminent future where more and more data would be available.

“We need to make sure that our ethical standards are as high as they possibly can be and that we educate and work with both clients and the public to make sure they understand why this is important,” she said.

The full list of 10 Fair Data principles can be seen here.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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