To read this content please select one of the options below:

Data mining: an ethical baseline for online privacy policies

Matthew D Dean (School of Business, University of Southern Maine,Portland, Maine, USA)
Dinah M Payne (College of Business Administration, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)
Brett J.L. Landry (College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas, USA)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 11 July 2016




The purpose of this paper is to advocate for and provide guidance for the development of a code of ethical conduct surrounding online privacy policies, including those concerning data mining. The hope is that this research generates thoughtful discussion on the issue of how to make data mining more effective for the business stakeholder while at the same time making it a process done in an ethical way that remains effective for the consumer. The recognition of the privacy rights of data mining subjects is paramount within this discussion.


The authors derive foundational principles for ethical data mining. First, philosophical literature on moral principles is used as the theoretical foundation. Then, using existing frameworks, including legislation and regulations from a range of jurisdictions, a compilation of foundational principles was derived. This compilation was then evaluated and honed through the integration of stakeholder perspective and the assimilation of moral and philosophical precepts. Evaluating a sample of privacy policies hints that current practice does not meet the proposed principles, indicating a need for changes in the way data mining is performed.


A comprehensive framework for the development a contemporary code of conduct and proposed ethical practices for online data mining was constructed.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides a configuration upon which a code of ethical conduct for performing data mining, tailored to meet the particular needs of any organization, can be designed.

Practical implications

The implications of data mining, and a code of ethical conduct regulating it, are far-reaching. Implementation of such principles serve to improve consumer and stakeholder confidence, ensure the enduring compliance of data providers and the integrity of its collectors, and foster confidence in the security of data mining.


Existing legal mandates alone are insufficient to properly regulate data mining, therefore supplemental reference to ethical considerations and stakeholder interest is required. The adoption of a functional code of general application is essential to address the increasing proliferation of apprehension regarding online privacy.



Dean, M.D., Payne, D.M. and Landry, B.J.L. (2016), "Data mining: an ethical baseline for online privacy policies", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 482-504.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles