Grand Issues Regarding the Ethics of Data

by Nicolas Sacchetti

Guillaume Paré, advisor to the Director of Research and Innovation at Polytechnique Montréal delivers his comments on some teams proposal of the Indicators and Data Effectiveness Assessment to Foster Impactful Innovation (IDEA) Hackathon during the P4IE Conference on Measuring Metrics that Matter.  An event organised by 4POINT0.

Guillaume Paré, advisor to the Director of Research and Innovation, Polytechnique Montréal

Statistics Canada partnered with 4POINT0 to run the IDEA Hackathon May 4 to 6, 2022. The objective was to explore how data and indicators could be better leveraged to help government foster impactful innovation. 

Right from the start, Guillaume Paré wants to make clear that he is not a data scientist. Instead, he has been working in the field of responsible conduct of research and research ethics for the past 15 years. His work experience in the field of ethics allows him to appreciate the issues related to university research from project preparation, responsible conduct, to publication and beyond.

Team 1 proposal goes as follows:

« The formation of a “Precision BIGS” overseen by the new Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency (CIIA) to provide support and personal recommendations to firms. The recommendations would be informed by Statistics Canada, who would collect data in the same way it did with the original Business Innovation and Growth Support (BIGS) database. The recommendations would additionally create personalised benchmarking reports to the various firms that have answered. It is a free consultation/benchmark structure to funnel firms to the right institutions for funding/support that doubles as an incentive for them to provide data to Statistics Canada. »

Team 5 proposal goes as follows:

« A centralized customer relationship management (CRM) portal/database that shares basic information (including company data, programs/service data and departmental data) about the recipient company of a given government program/service between departments. Public servants working with recipient companies can use the CRM portal to determine which departments have already served that company and therefore coordinate delivery of other services. Specific program deliverers can also use the portal to seek out potential new recipients/clients. »

On the key takeaways of the executive panel made of 4 senior management level judges, it has been mentioned that « there may also be an opportunity to integrate Team 5’s CRM system into Team 1’s “precision BIGS” consultation/benchmark structure. »

Data Privacy & Confidentiality

Guillaume Paré acknowledges that the use of data raises many questions regarding privacy and confidentiality. This is why we should have proper safety guidelines that provide user with clearance levels for personal and strategic data : « You have to show the ability to deal properly with such information. »

The research ethics specialist also raises the issue of companies shy to share data that could fire back at them. Meanwhile, « scholars and academia that use this data shall have the liberty to investigate as freely as possible and be able to engage in critical word since research is one of the core mission of the University. »

The Conflict of Meanings

The meanings of these data collection differ for the companies and for the government: “Government wants to assess the effectiveness of their program, but companies might see that as a burden because of the regulatory compliance cost (human resources, time, etc.).” 

For Paré, trust must be established to collect data : « The moment you begin to document the situation, people might resist being tailed by the government or the government body behind the data collection. » He sees the main issue should not be strictly a technocratic procedure. It needs to be clear in its purpose and the value that it adds to all stakeholders.

Equity – Diversity – Inclusion (EDI)

Guillaume Paré points out his main concern facing what he calls the tyranny of the majority, which is the data collection impacts that might have on companies that evolve in a particular setting like businessmen owned by First Nations, Métis and Inuit:

« These communities face particular challenges, which is structural, economical, legal, geographical and a big issue on recruitment within their communities. This makes it hard for the companies to reach the same performance as the non-indigenous ones. We must be careful on how we monitor the performance of organisations in regard to those particularities, » says the Advisor to Director of Research and Innovation at Polytechnique Montréal Guillaume Paré.

He then refers to The First Nations Principles of OCAP® (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession). Those principles « assert that First Nations have control over data collection processes, and that they own and control how this information can be used. »

Safeguards & Regulations

As a responsible conduct of research officer Paré thinks safeguards and regulations are no limits. He argues that since his job exposed him for the last 17 years to a lot of situations throughout time. He cites as an example the data project approval still used a decade later. « I had the chance to see the trajectory of those data over almost a decade sometimes and what I’ve saw is that  these safeguards and regulations are not limits. »

According to Guillaume Paré, over a long period of time, the safeguards foster trust toward institutions. He sees them as a self-monitoring mechanism. « But, in fact, over a long period of time, regulations foster trust toward institutions. It’s a self-serving mechanism: the more you gain trust, the more people share. » He concludes with a remark made by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural speech of 1961 : “« We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals.”

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 2023-10-27 à 21 h 39 min.