Deontology Codes for the Web Analytics Industry

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Jeremy Bentham, philosopher founder of Utilitarianism -- simply put, the philosophy that a moral act is one which produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. He outlined this theory in his 1789 work, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.I was reading the different posts and comments regarding private issues raised by the attempt to shut down the Microsoft ad Center (Yes I know I have some delay in my reading but these last few weeks have been hectic). It’s funny, at Washington during the eMetrics we were speaking about privacy and the differences of point of view between the US and the EU.

The reading lead me to an idea for the WAA. I think the Association should agree on deontology rules for the industry and provide some kind of label (besides the professional accreditation that is already been discussed).

I don’t think that a single code will work for everyone in the industry. My feeling is that there should be 3 sets of deontology codes depending whether the ‘labeled’ company is a vendor, a service professional or an individual practitioner within a company (maybe a fourth for educators?). For example, the practitioner should have a rule about not hiding some information and the service provider should ensure confidentiality (unless else is agreed with the customer).

Getting back to the confidentiality issue, we will experience more and more the preasure from public instances. I don’t think that the WAA should be part in the decision process of the rules that on a public level will be put in place. Nonetheless, they should lobby against the attempt to establish too many restrictions to customer insights. On the other hand the WAA should more concentrate its efforts in creating internal rules for the profession that will prove to the governments that we take privacy seriously and we aim ethical behaviour of all parties involved. It’s like other counseling professions as doctors or lawyers: they both have codes of conduct that provides guaranties to the public in general.

I would be more than pleased in coordinating a group to look into this and see if there’s an interest to create these types of Deontology Codes.

So, what do you think? Agree? Don’t agree? Have an idea for one of the rules?


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