In 2019, the Swiss Alliance for Data-Intensive Services launched the first version of its “Data Ethics Code”, whose update is currently in production and will be published in the fall of 2020. The Code will include an Implementation Guide that outlines several possibilities on how data ethics can be integrated in companies and business processes. Both the Codex recommendations and the Implementation Guide were topics of this workshop.

In total, seven persons representing a broad spectrum of institutions (Swiss Re, PostFinance, SMIs, public administrations and academia) participated in the workshop led by Christoph Heitz (ZHAW) as well as Markus Christen and Michele Loi (both from the University of Zurich). After a general introduction by Christoph and an in-depth presentations about the Codex by Michele and the Implementation Guide by Markus, the participants discussed in three small groups, representing different types of organizations (large and small companies, public institutions), which data ethics problems typically emerge in these contexts and which ethics structures would be adequate to resolve them.

The discussion revealed that large companies usually do have organizational measures in place to handle data ethics issues, but they may sometimes lack grounding in the day-to-day processes of the companies. A key challenge of smaller companies is to identify that ethical issues are part of their products and services. The difficulties to operationalized key values of the Codex such as transparency were discussed as well.

We thank the participants for an interesting workshop.