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Prelims Capsule


Ethics in Governance, Especially in Data Management


  • GS IV || Ethics || Ethics in Governance || Data management

What is Governance?

  • Governance’ is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented or not implemented. Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance, and local governance.

Good Governance

  • In the 1992 report entitled “Governance and Development”, the World Bank set out its definition of Good Governance. It defined Good Governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”.
  • Good governance for the betterment of the people to be the primary goal of civil service.Duty to act objectively and impartially.
  • Good governance has 8 major characteristics.

Ethics in Governance-Especially in Data Management

  • The past few years saw some of the largest data breaches in history which has made Ethics in Data Management and Governance a need of the hour.
  • Data is being traded as a commodity and has even been dubbed “the new oil”. Almost 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily, and that number is only going up. With this rapid proliferation of data, instances of data misuse are rising. Data misuse is becoming a global problem that demands far-reaching action.

Current Regulations

  • The current reliance is on rules. There is an increase in the number of rules and regulations. The GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, for example.
  • Various colleges are promoting ethics courses because powerful techniques like machine learning have the capacity to alter human civilization, and students need to be aware of the implications.
  • Chief Ethics Officers have been appointed by companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Tata Steel, and Suzlon.


  • India is also pacing fast towards setting up a tech framework and is expected to release a law for comprehensive data protection soon.
  • The law will regulate the managing of customers’ personal data by the government and private firms set up in India and abroad. However, generally, data privacy laws have 2 aspects in common – one is Data Protection and the other is Breach Notification. If either of these gets violated it would lead to punitive action. This would compel organizations to embrace transparency in their consumer data journey.

Need for ethical data management

Advantages of Ethics in Data Management and Governance

Way forward/ Approach for Ethics in Data Management and Governance

  • Ethical handling of data- Companies will need to go beyond data security and privacy to ensure that there is ethical handling of data within and beyond the organization.
  • Data Governance programs could benefit from ethics frameworks from the government and/or the wider public sector.
    • For example – The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has formulated a framework in service of its National Data Strategy.
  • Framework and standard- There should be collective standards and ethical frameworks outlining how data should be collected and used.
  • Chief Ethics Officer- There should be a ‘Chief Ethics Officer’ in each organization.
  • Awareness- Regular security training and awareness programs for the employees of the organization can help them understand the risks involved. It would reduce the chances of error due to ignorance.