The Data Oath

The Data Oath

In a world run on data, everyone should have access to their own information, not some of it, but all of it. When we think about the data we generate, it’s a rather vague concept. Very few of us understand how we generate data, what data we generate, how it is collected by companies, and how it is used. But data is one of the most important assets we each individually have. Our data determines many of the opportunities are made available to us and many of the opportunities not made available to us. Data is the digital representation of who we are, and it’s what AI systems use when they seek to model us. Are we a good candidate for something? Should we be placed in a certain group? Will we pay our debts on time? Are we likely to commit a crime if we’re let out on parole? These are just a small fraction of the questions our data answers for us in AI models.

It’s for these very reasons that we believe all data collected and used by companies should be made available in its entirety to users. Every data point should be turned over at the request of a user with clear indications for what the data points are, how they have been used, how the company came into possession of it, who the data has been shared with, etc. It should also be clear how the raw data was weighted in the models the company used.

Once a user has a clear understanding of what their data is, how it was used, how it was weighted, and how it impacted them, etc. Users should have the ability to contest the information a company has on file for them for any inaccuracies. Companies should have to prove that data was obtained in the correct manner and that the data is correct. Moreover, companies should not put additional work on users to prove that their data is inaccurate. This is part of what we consider a User First culture.

Finally, users should also have the right to have their data deleted from any database. Companies should not arbitrarily maintain records on users regardless of their reasoning. This would allow for a more ethical collection of data, more ethical treatment of users, and a more harmonious balance between users and companies.  

Accessible + Contestable Data