India Inc must consider adopting ‘digital ethics framework’: Report

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) India Inc needs to introduce and adopt a ‘digital ethics framework’ to ensure a holistic view of ethics and govern every digital intervention in the transformation journey of a business, according to a study.

The study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) and Bangalore Chamber of Commerce (BCIC) noted that an accelerated pace of digital transition, consumption of goods and services through app-based interface, and proliferation of data bring numerous risks such as biased decision-making processes being transferred to machines or algorithms at development stage by humans.

These biases can be a threat to the reputation and trust towards stakeholders, as well as cause operational risks, it said.

“Digital ethics are inter-personal, social, organisational, national norms that govern how people/digital users should conduct and behave in the digital world. It is a paradigm in which digital transformation is immune to the moral biases of those running the transformation,” it said.

It also means that machines are not allowed to discriminate and upturn the ethical values in our society. Digital ethics works both ways from humans to machines and from machines to humans.

Vishal Jain, Partner, Deloitte India said: “The pandemic compelled businesses and consumers to embrace digital technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, cloud, IoT and more in a big way.”

He, noted that the need of the hour, however, is to relook at the business operations layered on digital touchpoints with the lens of ethics, given biases might arise in the due course, owing to a faster response time to an issue.

Jain said that societal pressure to do “the right thing” now needs a carefully consideration of the trade-offs involved in the responsible usage of technology. Its interplay becomes vital to managing data privacy rights while actively adopting customer analytics for personalised service.

Manas Dasgupta, Chair of Young BCIC Expert Committee said that technology is advancing at a neck-break speed.

Certain areas related to possible misuses of technologies such as privacy and security are fairly well-regulated both from legal as well as corporate governance aspects, Dasgupta said.

However, inadvertent fallouts of technologies like autonomous machines that use AI and robotics are yet to be fully understood, he added.

“It is the need of the hour that the Industries start meaningful conversations and note sharing around good governance on these technologies and ensure that we are within our limits to stay fair to everyone in the society, remain transparent and responsible in our digital endeavors.”

The steps in forming a framework include creation of a committee which is a cross functional team with business, technology, and community experts collaborating to address all ethical concerns and drafting the policy on digital ethics.

Among other measures education should be imparted on the need for the right ethics. Individuals involved must be assessed and reinforced with the knowledge from time to time, the report said.