Background of the Declaration
There is significant literature highlighting a need for the tech industry to better engage with the ethical implications of their products and services. Businesses that are unable to anticipate unintended consequences and/or that fail to engage closely with ethical considerations risk the development of unsustainable products and services. This is a great risk to Canada’s future economic growth, innovation and to its reputation.
In 2018, Deloitte released a discussion paper about the ethical implications of technological innovation (Barr et al.). Several key questions raised in the report concerned the responsibility of business to its shareholders, customer and communities, as well as what ethical leadership would entail (Barr, Patel & Carpenter 2018). The issues raised in this paper served as the guiding framework for stakeholders at last year’s True North Conference in Kitchener, Ontario. The result was the “Tech for Good” Declaration, an evolving document that seeks to redefine the values guiding technological innovations by offering a set of ethical principles (see below). The declaration is intended to help companies to take ethics into account at every stage of their business model. The Declaration has so far been adopted by fifty-six companies.
The Declaration (in brief)
- Build trust and respect your data.
- Be transparent and give choice.
- Reskill the future of work.
- Leave no one behind.
- Think inclusively at every stage.
- Actively participate in collaborative governance.
- African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms
- African Platform on Access to Information Declaration
- APC Internet Rights Charter, Association for Progressive Communications
- Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (see especially Article 8)
- G20 Ministerial Statement on Trade and Digital Economy, The G20 Organization
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), European Union
- Google AI Principles, Google
- Declaration on the Digital Future, GSMA
- Declaration of Cities Coalition for Digital Rights
- The Human Rights Principles for Connectivity and Development, Access Now
- Joint declaration on freedom of expression and the Internet, OSCE
- Mobile User Privacy Bill of Rights, Electronic Frontier Foundation
- The Mozilla Manifesto, Mozilla Foundation
- OECD Principles on AI, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
- Security for All, Secure the Internet
- The Toronto Declaration, Access Now & Amnesty International
- Montréal Declaration for Responsible AI, Université de Montréal
- Tada! Data Manifesto, Tada Initiative, Amsterdam
The Declaration (in detail)
We promise to manage and use your data like we would expect others to use our own. The use and sale of big data is the lifeblood of many advanced technologies such as AI and Machine Learning. We actively consider how this data will affect customers and our communities, and acknowledge that every stakeholder has the right to understand exactly how their data is being used. If that changes over time, we’ll tell you in a way that is simple to understand.
What does this look like:
- Overcome information asymmetries.
- Make the value of personal data known.
- Do not exploit blackboxed infrastructures.
- Consider what can be done to remunerate individuals for the use of their data.
- Collaborate with all stakeholders to secure digital rights.
- Clarify to all stakeholders how your organization collects and uses data.
- Inform all stakeholders whenever the data collection and use changes.
- How does your organization protect the data it collects from users?
- How does your organization compensate users for the data you collect from them?
- How does your organization make users aware of the data you collect from them?
- What practices does your organization use to translate knowledge to your users about these practices?
- Understand how governments around the world legislate encryption services and technologies
- Keep up to date with discussions about human rights in the digital age
- Discover the social implications of AI innovations
- Review the Year in AI, 2018, an annual report on ethics in AI collated by the AI Now Institute
- Review the Freedom of Expression in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, a scoping paper drafted by the global human rights organization Article 19
- Collaborate with the CIO Strategy Council to shape and adhere to governance standards for the ethical use of ai and data
- Adopt and adapt OECD AI recommendations
- Assess the clarity and fairness of your Terms of Service
Participate with Ranking Digital Rights
- Conduct an informal audit of your own organization according to their 2019 performance indicators
Complete the Ethical OS Checklist
- “The Risk Mitigation Manual presents eight risk zones where we believe hard-to-anticipate and unwelcome consequences are most likely to emerge. Different tech runs different risks. This checklist will help you prioritize your efforts. How it works: Choose a technology, product or feature you’re working on. Read through the checklist and identify the questions and risk zones most relevant to you and the technology you’ve chosen. Use the “Now what?” action items to start investigating and mitigating these risks.”
- Work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to build digital tools to protect privacy and information security
- Certify your technology with the Trustable Technology Mark, provided free of charge by the Mozilla Foundation
- Anti-tracking chrome extension
- Consider these 10 recommendations for the ethical use of AI created by the AI Now Institute
We are committed to taking proactive steps to gain informed consent from individuals using our technology. Emerging technology has the potential to make significant improvements to quality of life, however we believe humans should be given the option to manually override the technology and have the final say. We won’t wait for policy and legislation to create meaningful mechanisms for transparency and consent.
What does this look like:
- Demystify technology, algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the computational procedures used to tackle complex problems.
- Consider that most people don’t read terms of service
- Design and promote meaningful mechanisms for transparency and user control.
- Gain informed consent from all users for all instances.
- Translate and communicate knowledge to obtain truly informed consent.
- Offer viable and accessible means for users to opt-out of all degrees of service.
- How does your organization ensure that the consent you’ve obtained from users is truly informed?
- How easy is it for users to opt-out of your service, platform, or technology?
- How does your organization work to reduce the consequences of opting out?
- How does your organization contribute to mechanisms for meaningful dialogue and participation about your organization, including its products, services, and practices?
- Keep up to date with what the latest news about digital transparency topics according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Learn about how USAFacts translates large datasets into comprehensive and comprehensible visualizations to foster an informed citizenry
- “Our team is composed of dedicated people who are passionate about making information available to the public. Our work includes partnerships with academic institutions and experts who help keep our data accurate and unbiased. Our partners include the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), and Lynchburg College.”
- Discover how Allied Media Projects creates media strategies to cultivate a more just, creative and collaborative world
- Demystify and improve your terms of service with the help of the “Terms of Service, Didn’t Read” browser extension
- Engage with the AI4Good programming to participate in education and outreach, developing standards and guidelines, as well as supporting research
- Consider how other organizations are working to make sophisticated computer technologies open and accessible to everyday users, like the Open AI group
- Play a round of “Tarot of Tech” to anticipate and avoid ethical situations that might arise from the use of disruptive tech
We acknowledge that the commercialization of new technologies will have a significant impact on jobs around the world. We believe that while technology will displace many jobs, it will also create an abundance of new opportunities and jobs. Our organization is steadfast to partner with others to reskill talent to pivot careers and actively build the workforce of the future.
What does this look like:
- Consider the impact of technological disruption on the future of work.
- Create opportunities for learning, work and employment.
- Create opportunities for individuals to pivot towards employment that is meaningful and valuable.
- Develop meaningful and alternative credentials that provide opportunities for skills to be valued outside the traditional credentialing structures.
- Provide viable alternatives to certify and credential skills.
- Participate in giving currency to alternative credentials.
- Collaborate with stakeholders to ensure transparent and equitable wage insurance that considers skills and opportunities of each person.
- Collaborate with stakeholders to identify the skills and jobs expected to be impacted by the future of technological disruption.
- Leverage technologies and neural networks to anticipate future needs.
- When implementing new innovations, have you considered who these developments will affect?
- How does your organization respond to anticipated risks of innovation?
- How does your organization ensure that risks are anticipated for all stakeholders?
- How does your organization certify skills and value?
- In what ways does your organization invest in and empower its people?
- How does your organization provide opportunities for skills and competencies to be gained?
- How does your organization ensure that employees are provided with valuable skill-building experiences to transition to new challenges?
- How does your organization make your chief required competencies known to all stakeholders (government, university, organizational recruiters)?
- Discover the OECD’s vision for the Future of Work
- Keep up to date with news about the Future of Work from Deloitte
- Keep up to date with news about the Future of Work from McKinsey & Group
- Learn about how leaders are engaging with Industry 4.0
- Learn about the origins of the sharing economy
- Partnerships your organization can pursue:
- Jobs for the Future (JFF), a non-profit organization, “JFF accelerates the alignment and transformation of the American workforce and education systems to ensure access to economic advancement for all.”
- “The leader in linking learning and work, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) pursues work at all levels within the public and private sectors to enhance learning opportunities for adults around the world.”
- “Opportunity@Work is a nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to expand access to career opportunities so that all Americans can work, learn, and earn to their full potential in a dynamic economy. In the next decade, Opportunity@Work aims to enable at least 1 million Americans to demonstrate their skills and get hired – generating a $20 billion boost in annual earnings by helping workers overcome barriers to hiring, learning, and financing training.”
- A nonprofit, member organization, “The mission of the IMS Global Learning Consortium is to advance technology that can affordably scale and improve educational participation and attainment. To ensure that the ‘Learning Impact’ of technology-enabled innovation is achieved around the world, IMS’s influential community of educational institutions, suppliers, and government organizations develops open interoperability standards, supports adoption with technical services, and encourages adoption through programs that highlight effective practices.”
- “IFTF’s Workable Futures Initiative seeks to understand emerging work patterns and to blueprint a generation of positive platforms that can create equitable opportunities and enable sustainable livelihoods.”
As an organization committed to using tech for good, we recognize our own biases and prejudices can be unconsciously incorporated in the creation and use of technology. We pledge to ask hard questions about our own prejudices, and deliberately incorporate diversity and inclusion into the creation and use of technology to ensure the benefits are accessible to every person, regardless of ethnicity, gender, economic status, age, geographic location, including Indigenous peoples on whose land we often work, live, and play.
What does this look like:
- Recognize biases and prejudices.
- Participate in humanity-centred design.
- Equip people to succeed in the real world and online.
- Anticipate barriers to inclusion and work proactively to solve them, especially in hiring practices.
- Consider the impact of your organization’s technological disruption on culture and society.
- How does your organization ensure that access to its services are available to everyone who needs them?
- How does your organization ensure that individuals who rely on your services have opportunities to organize?
- What else could your organization be doing to ensure that individuals and communities are empowered to participate in a digital future?
- You may be familiar with the idea of a universal basic income, but what about a Universal Basic Assets Manifesto that ensures people have access to the tools and resources they need to empower themselves?
- Review the principles of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract for the Web:
- “The Contract for the Web is an effort to bring governments, companies, civil society and web users together to build a roadmap for how we build a web that serves humanity and is a public good for everyone, everywhere. The Contract for the Web will become a strong mechanism for each party to be held accountable for doing their part to build an open and free web. Those who back the Contract Principles will have the opportunity to shape a full contract through a collaborative process with governments, companies, and individual web users negotiating specific actions to be taken by each party to help us realise this ambition. The full contract will completed in 2019.”
Ethics are not just an afterthought, add-on, or checklist to fill out at the end of a project. In all development and use of technology, we will consider the broader social context of our products and services, and make this consideration part of our ethos. This means not only thinking about diversity of race, gender, and class, but also taking into account environmental, social, and psychological impacts. Thinking inclusively is creatively cross-disciplinary; it involves not just the sciences but also the arts.
What does this look like:
- Identify and solve tech-driven inequalities.
- Place diversity and accessibility as core principles rather than secondary considerations.
- Ensure design is values-focused rather than focused on value-seeking.
- Commit to solving disparities in access and opportunities.
- Consider the impact of your organization’s technological disruption on the individual and their environment.
- How does your organization ensure that its benchmarking and performance auditing is equitable, inclusive, and free of bias?
- Does your organization know the histories of the frameworks, control mechanisms, and technologies it uses?
- How does your organization operationalize its code of ethics/values?
- Discover how to engage with accountability and transparency
- Review the OECD’s recommendations for cultivating well-being and cultural prosperity in the digital age
- Review Women in Communications Technology (WCT’s) recommendations for closing the gender gap in the digital economy
- Review the 14 recommendations to accelerate diversity and inclusions identified by Project Include
- Review the principles of inclusive design offered by Microsoft Design
- A guide to anticipating the future impact of today’s technology
- Roadmap to future impacts of urbanization and digitalization on cities
- Get IFTF foresight training
- Become a member of Women in AI, a non-profit dedicated to promoting gender inclusivity in AI research
- Review a toolkit designed by the Governance Futures Lab to help organizations rethink their governance design processes
- Partner with Microsoft Design:
- “We partner with people across the industry on a range of Inclusive Design internships, workshops, and partnership programs. We’re looking to work with universities, nonprofits, organizations, and individuals to explore how Inclusive Design creates better experiences for everyone. Get in touch with us here.”
As emerging technology transforms our world, we pledge to actively collaborate with industry, consumers, governments, academia and society to make better and more ethical decisions. Our loyalty to using tech for good will support government to create new rules, policy and guidance concerning matters of privacy, transparency, inclusivity, accessibility and inequality before they become systemic problems.
What does this look like:
- Collaborate with all stakeholders to build a more inclusive and equitable future.
- Respect and protect human rights.
- Leverage your organization’s expertise and networks to build effective and sustainable coalitions to address inequalities and injustices.
- Engage with stakeholders to develop good governance and policies that benefit the future.
- Seek out diverse perspectives from multiple backgrounds, including beyond STEM disciplines such as the Arts and Humanities.
- Supply means for all stakeholders to contribute and participate in meaningful ways at multiple stages of research and design, and not simply as cursory opinions at the end.
- Create coherent, equitable policies that afford mechanisms for all stakeholders to raise and redress grievances.
- What are your mechanisms for collaboration at all levels?
- Does your organization know what spaces exist for collaboration and community discussion about your organization?
- How does your organization ensure these discussions are considered?
- Review the declaration of Cities Coalition for Digital Rights
- Review the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet created by the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition
- Keep up to date with news about global governance in the digital age
- Coordinate with the Tech Workers Coalition to build collaborative governance
- Consult the BELIEF decision-making guide
- Review the guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- Eight Guidelines for Conducting effective Human Rights Impact Assessment
- Our identities are who we are, and which make each of us unique. Identities are the sum of our experiences and the foundation from which we participate in society, including through identification materials—IDs. According to the World Bank ID4D database, however, nearly one billion people around the world lack legal identification, while another three billion people cannot use IDs to participate in digital ecosystems. As economies and industries increasing rely on interdependent digital networks, we pledge to recognize and protect the sanctity and security of identities. This includes social, cultural and professional identities, both online and off. We will use technologies, networks, algorithms and computational techniques that help people gain new experiences and share their diverse abilities and backgrounds. We will use technology to empower individuals to participate on their own terms, and never to control or exploit their identities.
What does this look like:
- Create identification mechanisms that recognize skills, values and experiences.
- Provide opportunities for social training, online learning and skills accreditation that align with personal values, beliefs and needs.
- Afford people the right to choose what data persists about their identities. Respect those choices.
- Provide remuneration for the data your organization uses from individuals.
- Consider the impact of your technologies and computation techniques on culture, society and individual identities.
- Create inclusive, non-coercive, non-expropriating, empowering networking platforms.
- Follow the Identity Research Project, which explores the status of identities in the networked age
- Read McKinsey Global Institute report on Digital Identification: A Key to Inclusive Growth
- Read Ro Khanna’s Internet Bill of Rights
- Discover the GSMA Identity Programme
- Discover the GSMA digital authentication platform solution: Mobile Connect
- Follow the conversation about digital identity rights outlined by the ODB project
- Discover possibilities for creating alternative social media platforms
- Discover the value of inclusive, identity-driven digital ecosystems