Digital Ethics Advisory Boards - An Overview

In recent years, advisory boards have become a common model for discussing complex issues regarding the handling of data and algorithms. The aim is to develop digital-ethical standards and best practices in companies and public authorities.

The design of the existing advisory bodies differs, but so does their focus on content. In the following, we have compiled a selection that shows the spectrum of digital ethics advisory bodies.

Merck KGaA | Digital Ethics Advisory Panel

In early 2021, the German pharmaceutical company Merck will announce the establishment of its Digital Ethics Advisory Panel. The panel, made up of renowned external experts from science and industry, will provide ethical recommendations for business processes and thus support Merck's advancing data-based digital landscape. This will ensure that the company develops digital innovations in a responsible manner. The panel's first task is to create a digital ethics code that will serve as a framework for the panel and the company.

Digital Ethics Advisory Panel

Orange S.A. | Data and AI Ethics Council

Communications and IT service provider Orange announces the creation of a Data and AI Ethics Council in 2021. Headed by the CEO, the council is composed of 11 external members from the scientific community and will develop and implement standards for the responsible use of data and artificial intelligence at Orange. In addition to employees, external stakeholders (e.g. customer representatives) should also be able to submit questions to the committee.

Data and AI Ethics Council

Scottish Government | Digital Ethics People’s Panel

The Scottish Government announces the establishment of a Digital Ethics People's Panel in 2021. The panel will help ensure that digital technologies and data are used ethically in public services. The Scottish Government recruited the 30 external members of the panel at random. It sent out letters throughout Scotland inviting people to join the panel, thus relying on citizen engagement. In addition, a National Digital Ethics Expert Group was set up to take citizens' perspectives and develop recommendations for government action.

Digital Ethics People's Panel

IBM Inc. | AI Ethics Board

The technology company IBM founded its AI Ethics Board in 2020. IBM wants to ensure the responsible processing of data with artificial intelligence. In doing so, IBM relies heavily on the exchange with other companies, organizations and governments. The AI Ethics Board is intended to address questions that are not easy to clarify in specialist departments. It is thus part of a holistic governance structure for the topic of artificial intelligence.

AI Ethics Board

Hayden AI Inc. | AI Ethics Board

In 2020, AI company Hayden AI established an AI Ethics Board. The board is to provide guidance to the company in the responsible development of smart city technologies with AI capabilities. The 5 external members are to place particular emphasis on the impact of the new technologies on communities and develop recommendations for action for the management.

AI Ethics Board

UK National Health Service | Ethics Advisory Board

The UK Government's National Health Service established an Ethics Advisory Board in 2020 to oversee the development of their national COVID-19 contact tracing app. The main task of the board was to ensure that the app was developed in accordance with ethical requirements. It published a detailed report on this in August 2020.

Ethics Advisory Board

Facebook Inc. | Oversight Board

In 2019, the social network Facebook launched an Oversight Board. The oversight board is intended to support Facebook in answering difficult questions, for example on the topic of "free speech". The board consists of 40 external members from various fields and selects its own cases for evaluation. These include, above all, particularly symbolic cases. It can independently determine whether to uphold or overturn Facebook's previous decisions on content.

Oversight Board

Swisscom AG | Data Ethics Board

The telecommunications company Swisscom has launched a data ethics board in 2019. The data ethics board is to review data processing procedures according to objective ethical values. The board consists of internal company representatives from HR, Customer Care, Data Analytics and Mobile Solutions and is chaired by the Head of Group Communications & Responsibility. It is to regularly review concrete use cases from everyday business.

Data Ethics Board

Danish Government | Danish Data Ethics Council

In 2019, the Danish government established the Danish Data Ethics Council. Since then, it has advised the public and private sectors on ethical issues related to data. It is expected to provide ongoing perspectives on the responsible use of data.

Danish Data Ethics Council

SAP SE | AI Ethics Advisory Panel/ AI Ethics Steering Committee

Since 2018, the software group SAP has organized digital ethics efforts in two bodies, the AI Ethics Advisory Panel and the AI Ethics Steering Committee. The two committees rely on the advice of external experts (AI Ethics Advisory Panel) as well as on internal resources (AI Ethics Steering Committee). This is to ensure that artificial intelligence is developed and used responsibly.

AI Ethics Advisory Panel/ AI Ethics Steering Committee

ING N.V. | Data Ethics Council

In 2018, the financial company ING founded a Data Ethics Council. This advises the company on existing and potential data ethics dilemmas. The council aims to promote ethical behavior and help to deal with dilemmas as uniformly and consistently as possible.

Data Ethics Council

Microsoft Inc. | Aether (AI, Ethics and Effects and Research) Committee

In 2017, the technology company Microsoft founded an Aether Committee. The committee advises the management on responsible AI, technology and processes and consists of several working groups. They advise on emerging digital ethics issues and identify opportunities and challenges.

Aether Committee

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