Data Ethics in Business

Data ethics reflects on the relationship between technology and citizens’ fundamental rights, legal certainty and societal values that are becoming increasingly important with the accelerated technological development.

Data ethics builds trust

Using data is an integral and growing part of business models. Data ethics is a tool for companies to build trust in their data practices in the eyes of customers and business partners.

Data ethics is about asking questions such as:

  • Are consumers aware of how their data is used and do they consider it fair?
  • Does the company collect more data than necessary?
  • How and when does the company decide to delete data and which considerations are taken into account?

Companies may for instance create a policy on data ethics as a way of internally guiding the company’s data ethical reflections and decision-making in practice. Companies may otherwise decide on a more case by case approach to their data ethical reflections.

Guidance on data ethics – how to get started

The Agency of Digital Government provides guidance for companies on data ethics. The intent is not to define “right” from “wrong”, but to guide companies on how to identify and reflect on data ethical issues.

It is not difficult getting started with data ethics. Danish companies can seek guidance and inspiration on

Knowledge on data ethics in large Danish companies

In 2021, large Danish companies were legally obliged to report on data ethics in their annual reports to the Danish authorities concerning the companies’ financial performance and main activities.

The publication “Data Ethics in Large Danish Companies” (2023) examines how large companies report on, and perceive, their data ethical considerations, as well as how company policies for data ethics differs across industries.

Key findings in the analysis “Data Ethics in Large Danish Companies” (2023)

  • In 2023, 84 percent of large Danish companies reported on data ethics.
  • In 2023, 51 percent of large Danish companies reported having a policy for data ethics.
  • From 2022 to 2023, the proportion of companies with a policy on data ethics remained almost unchanged, rising from 50 percent in 2022 to 51 percent in 2023.
  • 91 percent of the companies’ data ethics policies include elements from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) while among those without such policies, 53 percent cite GDPR compliance as a contributing factor.
  • Of the companies with a data ethics policy in 2023, 62 percent mention data concerning employees in their policy, while 30 percent mention the use of generative AI.
  • The percentage of companies reporting on data ethics varies across industries, ranging from 91 percent in the construction industry to 78 percent in the real estate industry.
  • The percentage of companies with a policy on data ethics varies. It ranges from 33 percent in the construction industry to 70 percent in the information and communication industry.