Constructing Commercial Data Ethics


  • Linnet Taylor
  • Lina Dencik Cardiff University



data ethics, big data, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, information


The ethics of big data and AI have become the object of much public debate. Technology firms around the world have set up ethics committees and review processes, which differ widely in their organisation and practice. In this paper we interrogate these processes and the rhetoric of firm-level data ethics. Using interviews with industry, activists and scholars and observation of public discussions, we ask how firms conceptualise the purposes and functions of data ethics, and how this relates to core business priorities. We find considerable variation between firms in the way they use ethics. We compare strategies and rhetoric to understand how commercial data ethics is constructed, its political and strategic dimensions, and its relationship to data ethics more broadly.


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Author Biographies

Linnet Taylor

Linnet Taylor is Associate Professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), Tilburg University, the Netherlands. She is the PI of the ERC Starting Grant project DataJustice,  ERC Starting Grant no. 757247

Lina Dencik, Cardiff University

Dr Lina Dencik is Reader and Co-Director of the Data Justice Lab at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University, as well as PI of the ERC Starting Grant Data Justice: Understanding datafication in relation to social justice (DATAJUSTICE).




How to Cite

Taylor, L., & Dencik, L. (2020). Constructing Commercial Data Ethics. Technology and Regulation, 2020, 1–10.



Received 2021-09-03
Published 2020-04-10