Just because we can, doesn't mean we should

Data is fab. Used well, it can help our organisations run more smoothly and efficiently, and give a better experience to our service users and supporters.

We’ve worked with a number of charities to collect better data and improve the way that this data is used within the organisation. We’ve analysed supporter behaviour, to improve the marketing messages they received. We’ve analysed service user behaviour to run more efficient services. But, should we? Just because we can do these things, does that mean we should?

When analysis crosses the line

Just this morning, Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using Facebook data without consent. They had the ability to use personal data to influence the outcome of the general election. They could do it, but should they have done this?  

On the analytical grapevine, I heard that of one of the major supermarkets have used their data to predict when an individual will get divorced, based on their buying habits. They clearly have a business reason for doing this (otherwise they wouldn’t spend the money analysing the data), and they can do this analysis using the data they hold, but should they?

Taking care of the data we are entrusted with

We have a duty to take care of the data that is given to us. The GDPR is giving more power back to the individual and putting stricter controls on charities in how they use data. But, as charities, should we go a step further? Just because we can analyse data in a certain way, should we do this? Before embarking on any new data analytics journey, it’s worth asking the questions:

1.       Why are we doing this, what value will it add to our end user?

2.       Would our end user feel comfortable knowing we are doing this with their data?

Got questions about GDPR or using your data for good? Get in touch.