• Tracey Twynham

Ethical, Responsible, and Respectful Use of Data

Data protection regulation and legislation changes over the past few years have presented challenges and opportunities for brands and businesses.Whilst some might consider this daunting, we believe it isa positive environment to be working in. Challenges are not to be shied away from and opportunities are to be embraced. As professional marketers, we are all accountable for the data we hold and how we use it. Respect, ethics and responsibility are our mantra.


What does it mean to use data in an ethical, responsible and respectful way?


Responsible data handling means applying ethical principles of transparency, fairness, and respect to how we treat the data. We must acknowledge that the way data usage affects people’s lives. Ethical data usage can also protect privacy and autonomy and build the trust needed for digital innovation to flourish in ways that benefit everyone. (Internet Society) Data can be used for good. Data can inform targeted marketing that can improve services and enhance customer experiences. On the flip side, its use can also erode that very same privacy, autonomy, and trust in the digital marketing altogether.


Data usage must be ethical. As responsible, respectful marketers we must aim to protect privacy and autonomy and maintain trust in everything we do. Ethical data usage is key to ensuring our customers faith and goodwill is maintained. It’s a balance, but this can be achieved whilst also allowing innovative marketing to flourish. Key to responsible and ethical data usage is the genuine interest in respectful use of data and in keeping customer data secure rather than the threat of punishment from non-compliance.


Consumers are more aware than ever of their data rights. This is a good thing, and if marketers embrace this, we can develop relationships that benefit both sides of the marketing debate. Over the top personalised ads can be creepy and can lead to consumer disenchantment. There is a balance to be struck which can protect the individual’s interests whilst helping marketing objectives. If consumers believe the data you collect is used ethically and appropriately, your brand will benefit.

In protecting customers data, InfoSecurity Magazine suggests some steps a company should take:

  • Don’t collect more data than for required purposes

  • Let customers know how their data will be used, shared, and stored

  • Upgrade your security architecture

  • Vet the security architecture of business partners and all third parties, especially those with whom you share customer data

In marketing, ethics refers specifically to the application of basic morality in the conduct of business between consumers and other related parties; a conscious attempt to apply moral principles especially when it comes to the production, pricing and promotion of their goods or services. As such, organisations must incorporate this consideration in their marketing ethics.

In conclusion, when an organization behaves ethically, customers develop more positive attitudes about the firm, its products, and its services. Any ethical, responsible, and respectful use of data must involve companies adopting the following 3 tenets:

  1. Adopt compelling customer engagement powered by an intelligent marketing approach

  2. Overcome ethical challenges behind data-driven technology

  3. Understand the value of data and the rights to privacy of the individual

Be ethical, be responsible, be respectful - your strategic objectives and your customers will thank you.


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