Applying Ethical Theory – Big Data: More isn’t always better

Posted on November 4, 2023 by Cheapest Assignment

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Applying Ethical Theory – Big Data: More isn’t always better


The ethical theory refers to the application of systematic concepts based on right or wrong behavior. The current philosophers have categorized ethical theories into applied ethics, normative ethics, and metaethics. Ethical theories play a crucial role in the decision-making process concerning every domain. These theories represent the viewpoint that helps different individuals and groups to make vital decisions.

As per Eke, Stahl & Fidler, the Big data revolution raises several ethical issues relating to data privacy, transparency, confidentiality, identity, etc. Having ethical control over these Big data aspects is vital in the current business scenario (Eke, Stahl & Fidler, 2015). Any current business firm must focus on big data ethics and follow the four main principles so that the major big data norms are followed. It is of vital significance to convert these principles into strict rules and regulations so that the ethical aspects concerning Big data can be effectively managed.

Some of the key ethical guidance mechanisms of Big data are the organizational principles, self-policing management, institutional statement of ethics, etc. As per Eustace & Burmeister, there is scope to develop principles and laws that will enable the users to focus on all its ethical aspects and concerns. Below the different ethical theories like utilitarianism, deontology, virtue, and contract have been used to understand various ethical issues that arise in the field of Big data (Eustace & Burmeister, 2013).

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The utilitarianism theory of ethical practices states that the best action is the one that increases the output. The utilitarian concept mainly relies on the theory of intrinsic value. The connection between the action and its outcome depends on the specific set of circumstances, thus no moral behavior or principle is regarded as an absolute or a necessity under this ethical model.

In the case of Big data, a high quantity of data or information is converted into data sets and stored using different kinds of network-accessible infrastructure (Kim, Kim & Lee, 2014). The volume of such data has been increasing over the past few years and it poses several challenges relating to the method that should be adopted to capture and save the data and, the process that needs to be followed to use the available information effectively. As per Mann, et al., 201, current business undertakings understand the need to securely access different kinds of data by using various technology solutions so that the customers have an enriching experience and they get effective results (Mann, et al., 2015, September).

Great progress has been made in the technological aspects but still, the process has to be firmer so that the aggregation, analysis, and presentation of data in different formats will be simpler and the end user will get utility out of it.

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This aspect of the ethical theory states that all individuals must adhere to their obligations, responsibilities, and duties. The firms or individuals who follow the deontological theory generally produce consistent results since their work process is consistent which is based on the particular individual’s set responsibilities and duties.

According to Noordin, in the current data age, all the confidential and personal information of millions of individuals is accessible from any part of the world. The internet has networked a large number of databases into a single combined information platform. This approach has changed the processes of businesses (Noordin, 2013). This trend of data accumulation has raised numerous questions regarding the ethical boundaries that need to be followed for collecting and circulating personal data so that the privacy of individuals is not compromised (van Oortmerssen, 2014, May).

Information privacy is vital since it includes the overall control over an individual’s personal information. One of the major ethical issues is the correct use of personal information and the right of the individual or concerned to information privacy (Pimple, et al., 2014, May). To manage and control this ethical concern privacy self-management is vital. It encompasses a transparent record system of confidential personal data, the right to prevent misuse of personal data without consent, the right to modify or correct one’s data, etc. All these steps can help in dealing with some ethical issues that arise in the case of Big data.

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The virtue theory of ethics emphasizes developing positive habits so that it will help in building a strong and positive character. According to Plato, there are four vital virtues namely justice, wisdom, courage, and temperance. Other important virtues are sincerity, self-respect, etc. According to the theory, bad habits must be avoided like injustice, etc (Tavani, 2013).

But today there are major gaps between the process of Big data and the unanswered queries relating to its ethical aspects like virtue and integrity. The different kinds of information that are stored in the databases are so crucial and valuable for business firms that companies are unwilling to clean up the volume of data stored in several servers. Virtue is vital in any domain, especially in the case of Big data since it encourages the capture of a high-quality and comprehensive set of knowledge which will help various undertakings (Sibanda & Maposa, 2013).

Lack of control over the available data raises important issues relating to the overall process and functions of Big Data. There is a need for virtuous individuals who deal with the huge set of data so it genuinely is not compromised and the general public or customer doesn’t suffer. There is a need for a right and appropriate external storage approach (Stahl, et al., 2014).

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The social contract theory refers to the philosophy which states that the morals and obligations of particular individuals depend on the contract or agreement among them that is established in the society in which they exist. Hence the various laws and rules are based on the social contract.

Taking into account the vast technological innovation that is taking place in the current scenario. This advancement has an important impact on the social and cultural aspects. It is important to note that the advancement should not threaten human dignity or integrity.

A vital aspect of the social contract theory is the assumption that there is a vital role of social and political order for the common interest of the society and its people. There is a need to restrain firms that have a major amount of personal data with them by using appropriate legal rules and regulations.

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Big Data subject is vast since it includes large data sets of confidential information. With the advancement in technology, the role of Big data has increased, but at the same time, the various ethical issues that arise with the set of data have also increased. It is vital to understand the various ethical theories and the concerns that arise in the field of Big data. Firms need to think logically and sensibly about the storage and use of the data in hand so that no one suffers.

A few recommendations regarding stricter laws and regulations and, the employment of integrated individuals have been included which suggests methods for how the ethical issues that arise in the Big data scenario can be tackled.

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Eke, D. O., Stahl, B. C., & Fidler, C. (2015). Understanding the relevance of ethics reviews of ICT research in UK computing departments using dialectical hermeneutics. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society13(1), 28-38.

Eustace, K., & Burmeister, O. (2013). Ethics and Governance of ICT-based social engagement in institutional aged care. AiCE 2013, 18.

Kim, H. S., Kim, J. M., & Lee, W. G. (2014). IE behavior intent: A study on ICT ethics of college students in Korea. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 23(2), 237-247.

Mann, S., Lopez, M., Lopez, D., & Smith, N. (2015, September). Educating for ICT4S: Unpacking sustainability and ethics of ICT student intakes. In EnviroInfo and ICT for Sustainability 2015. Atlantis Press.

Noordin, M. F. (2013). Application of privacy, security, and ethics in Islamic concerned ICT. Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 14(11), 1548-1554.

Pimple, K. D., Jones, C., Miller, K. W., Searing, D. R., Seelman, K. D., & Shilton, K. (2014, May). Panel-Ethics and pervasive ICT. In Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering, 2014 IEEE International Symposium on (pp. 1-2). IEEE.

Sibanda, F., & Maposa, R. S. (2013). The Ethics of ICT Assessment in Public Examinations: Reflections on the Zimbabwean Experience.

Stahl, B. C., Heersmink, R., Goujon, P., & Flick, C. (2014). Issues, concepts, and methods relating to the identification of the ethics of emerging ICTs. Communications of the IIMA, 10(1), 5.

Tavani, H. T. (2013). ICT ethics bibliography 2012-2014: a select list of recent books. Ethics and Information Technology15(3), 243.

van Oortmerssen, G. (2014, May). Ethics and ICT: Beyond design. In Proceedings of the IEEE 2014 International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology (p. 34). IEEE Press.

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