ALT Members respond to Technology and Data Ethics Inquiry

ALT has submitted evidence to Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics landmark inquiry into data and technology ethics

About the inquiry: Taming the new Wild West: Data and Technology Ethics fit for our time

Data’s role in our lives has increased but regulators are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. It’s clear that the UK, like many other countries, is facing a data and technology governance gap. This is why a cross-party inquiry from Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics is researching clearer principles and best practice standards for data use.

To remain at the forefront of the technological global race, the UK – through both public and private enterprise – must address ethical concerns now, rather than fix problems as they arise and be left on the back foot.

The Data and Technology Ethics Inquiry will concentrate on the areas of trust, ethics and good governance. This includes public trust, business confidence, and the trade-offs between privacy and progress that are inherent in technology developments and big data. The research will also examine the need for good governance in the tech sphere and accountability and redress when the first line of trust is broken.

With the backing of Jisc, Deloitte and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the inquiry will focus on areas of society that feel the huge benefits of using data and technology, but also demonstrate unique ethical concerns around privacy, lack of transparency in algorithm bias, surveillance, and potential for fraud and exploitation.

Its recommendations will be targeted to advise the newly-established Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

ALT's response

You can read the full response here including case studies, research and references from Members. Thank you to everyone who provided input. 

Executive summary

  1. ALT is making this submission as a membership body, representing over 3,500 individuals and organisations, including universities, colleges, government departments, agencies, and software, hardware, and e-learning businesses from across the UK;

  2. ALT was represented at the roundtable on Education in November 2018 and we have now collated evidence from Members for submission;

  3. Our response is focused on the education sector and, in particular, ethical issues relating to the use of predictive analytics in education;

  4. We have focused on concerns about the legitimacy of education providers’ decisions about individual students based on potentially biased and opaque algorithms, their ability to assess the validity of their decisions,and to set out appropriate institutional policies for informed consent of all data subjects;

  5. We believe that Learning Technology professionals have an important role to play in advising policy makers, helping institutions develop informed and effective use of data and analytics, and supporting educators and learners to develop critical data literacy skills.