The Global Data Ethics Project

Our community-driven, industry-agnostic group of data practitioners, ethicists, and advocates invite you to join this movement towards applied ethics in our fields.

Welcome to GDEP

The Global Data Ethics Project, or GDEP for short, is an ethical framework and set of principles created for data practitioners.

The framework is built upon the five FORTS - Fairness, Openness, Reliability, Trust, and Social Benefit.

The principles dive into concepts of privacy, transparency, consent, bias, diversity and ethical imagination.

Review the Principles in more depth and download the one-sheet for future reference, below. But first thing is first - please, Sign the Ethics Pledge.

Project leads:

Mo Johnson

FORTS Framework

FAIRNESS - I make a dedicated effort to understand, mitigate and communicate the presence of bias in both data practice and consumption.

OPENNESS - I practice humility and openness. Transparent practices, community engagement, and responsible communications are an integral part of my data ethics practice.

RELIABILITY - I ensure that every effort is made to glean a complete understanding of what is contained within data, where it came from, and how it was created. I also extend this effort for future users of all data and derivative data.

TRUST - I work to build public confidence in data practitioners. I make every effort to use data and algorithms in ways that maximize the informed participation of people around the world.

SOCIAL BENEFIT – I place people before data and am responsible for maximizing social benefit and minimizing harm. I consider the impact of my work on communities of people, other living beings, ecosystems and the world-at-large.

Global Data Ethics Principles

The following ten Principles came out of the initial Ethics Project working groups at Bloomberg D4GX conference in 2017. The principles dive into concepts of privacy, transparency, consent, bias, diversity and ethical imagination.

Download the GDEP ethical framework principles PDF here
, and learn more about the GDEP project history below.

How to Get Involved

All of the Data for Democracy projects are managed via our online Slack community. First, you can "Join Us" by completing the simple request form, which you'll find at the bottom of this page.

This form will automatically populate this project as the one you're interested in. You'll then be invited to D4D and can find this project under the "ethics-general" channel within Slack.

Once there, please say hello! You can also:

The ethics project includes data practitioners from a variety of domains: civic tech, social science, engineering, machine learning/AI, government, data journalism, and more.

With this diverse background of practitioners, there are many ways to contribute and participate in GDEP. Some community members bring writing and research experience, others are long-time coders, and several are educators and academics who want to combine ethics and data science in their teaching. Almost all are motivated by a desire to apply ethics to data science thinking.

Whether you are a student, a CTO, or you identify as a passionate technologist who wants to change the way we think about technology, there is a way for you to contribute to the Global Data Ethics Project.

Project Background

Initially called the Community Principles of Ethical Data Sharing, or CPEDS, the project you see before you today was born out of a call for ethics in data work, specifically the call from DJ Patil in an interview with our own Jonathon Morgan during DJ's last days in the White House as the first (and only) U.S. Chief Data Scientist under President Obama.

Enter Natalie Evans Harris and Lilian Huang, both of whom picked up the call and connected with Data for Democracy's online community. Natalie is the former Senior Policy Advisor to the US Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration, and Lilian is our former Project Lead at Data for Democracy and currently works in Computational Analysis & Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

And finally, Omidyar Network - as a committed supporter of ethics in the data lifecycle - took note of the ethics work coming out of D4D, and decided to support our work. Through their generosity, we were able to hire 2 staff members and continue the promotion of our ethics work.

We are forever grateful for all of these contributions and continued support around this evolving, and necessary, project.

“We don't want to talk about how to use data ethically; we want to use data ethically. It's hypocritical to talk about ethics, but never do anything about it. We want to put our principles into practice.”

DJ Patil

Join this Project

We depend on the skill sets, ideas and passionate commitment of our volunteers to help make each project a success. If this project is something you'd like to be a part of, we'd love to have you on board.