Information Governance and Ethics

Keywords: Emergence of information governance, Opportunities, Risk and Scope of Information Governance, Development of information governance and ethics in the organisation, Information Governance and Ethics assignment writing services


Tallon, Ramirez and Short (2015) highlighted that in today’ digital economy, information governance is at the heart of organisation to set a high standard to handle pivot data and information. Information governance gives organisation tool to set the standard and it allows both individual and organisation to handle legal and financial data in an ethical way. It ensures data and information in efficient and effectively manner to deliver the best service to internal and external customers.

McCollum (2013) explained that organisation with strong information governance ensures that data and information are used in an ethical manner. The application of information governance enables the organisation to bring relevant guidance and legislation together to deploy evidence-based practices to data and information management in the organisation.

The benefit of information governance that it allows handling of information  consistent way through managing legal provision as well as provide guidance and professional code of conduct for data and information management (Bhansali, 2013).

The purpose of this briefing paper to analyse and evaluate condition resulted in the emergence of information governance, opportunities and risk and scope of information governance. Moreover, it reviews how information governance and ethics can be developed ‘systematically and effectively’ in the organisation.

Why information governance and ethics

Conditions that led to emergence of information governance and ethics

Floridi (2013) elaborated that the emergence of new technological capabilities with unprecedented power to record and analyse data and human actions has emphasised on the greater need of the framework to ensure human actions and rights are upheld during use of these new technologies. The ‘big data technologies’ need a framework which ensures information governance and ethical standards remain applicable. For example, emission scandal at Volkswagen has highlighted that moral and ethical duties require in all aspect information management.

Chadwick, Levitt and Shickle (2014) added that the emergence of technological abilities requires protection in case of development and use of technology as well as preserve human rights. It is critical for an organisation to consistently and clearly process and stores the information that can be trusted as well as security and confidentiality of data and information. The need for information governance is pivotal at all times and respect to information asset of organisation.

De Haes and Grembergen (2015) analysed that the risk related to poor information governance poses legal and economic consequences for the organisation and thus, the danger of right to privacy. For example, in 2012, NHS trust had big data leak composed of high sensitive data such as HIV patient’s information and absorption patient’s details. The data was being sold on the eBay that endangers privacy and confidentiality risk for the customer.

Security and legal risk associated with such practices highlight that data security and procedures are critical through effective information governance (De Haes and Grembergen, 2015). The basic common law defines that individual shall be provided the person and property protection. However, changing landscape because of economic, political and social realities requires new recognition for human rights.

The new online business model, processes and inventions have required protection of rights of individual through protecting personal information and ensuring confidentiality as well as privacy (Vincent, Higgs and Pinsker, 2015).

McAfee et al (2012) discussed the emergence of big data technologies and its impact on public sector agencies is evident. For example, WikiLeaks undermines the trust and confidence of public, which makes it further harder for data sharing. This shows that data security risk through sharing of information across the public. Nevertheless, this has poses privacy and confidentiality challenges along with the threat to human right and public sector agencies adversely affect the public outcomes.

Kitchin (2014) evaluated that the traditional solution to big data technologies risk is practically impossible and fragmented solution requires time and legal complications. Therefore, information governance and ethics are critical for big data management.

To summarise, data security, legal concerns, relation with business stakeholders and data structure has raised information technology (IT) complexities that have prompted the need for information governance and ethics.

Opportunities and risk — information governance and ethics

Risk Associated with big data and information governance

Tallon (2015) appraised that the risk associated with big data is data protection and privacy risk. The UK data protection Act enforces the consent of individual for personal data. However, to harvest individual data organisation may run into a problem by not offering choice to the customers.

The privacy concern has remained on the front core with information and what information should be made public requires careful attention. Despite the fact that public sector has made remarked progress through sharing statistics and data on various issues with the public. Nevertheless, the matter remains debate that what type of public data analysis is acceptable (Kitchin, 2014).

Abbasi, Sarker and Chiang (2016) debated that information governance allows the organisation to address the legal and IT risk as well as offers procedure and policies, which improve the relationship with stakeholders through applying framework based on legislation, regulation and guidance to manage to use the data in ethical manner. For example, big data has transformed the working and processes of NHS through effective information governance and ethics compliance.

Opportunities exploitation and information governance

Haes and Grembergen (2015) argued that the big data sources and technologies in public sector organisation increase efficiency and effectiveness, which could allow identifying the fraud and provide effective service to the customer through timely decision-making. Big data sources enable the opportunity to perform public services at low cost and increase efficiency and effectiveness for existing resources.

The opportunity associated with good information governance is that it leads to improvement of data and information handling based on structure and procedure protocol for data management in an organisation.

Raghupathi, Wullianallur and Raghupathi (2014) added that the compliance with legislation and procedure ensure data and information in an organisation held in confidentiality and secure manner. The data processed and record is fair, efficient and reliable. Moreover, effective information governance practices enable data is used in an ethical manner as well as shared data lawfully.

The provision of timely, relevant and reliable information would allow making timely decisions for the provision of accurate information and improve relation with user groups.  The privacy and confidentiality of data are managed and control through information governance policies and procedure (Floridi, 2015).

What information governance and ethics is?

How information governance is defined?

Hagmann (2013) stated that information is an important secondary resource and information activity involves all resource consumed in producing, processing and distributing information goods and services. Governance of information involves how the organisation used its information its assets or how information is treated in an organisation.

Information governance is a collection of the practices and capabilities of capture, creation, valuation, capture, storage, archiving and deletion of data over its data lifecycle. The objective of the information governance is to protect organisation information asset to maximise its value for the organisation. It ensures that information asset for the organisation is secure and assessable for decision-making. Besides, information as an asset includes identifying as well as documenting existing information assets to establish value for organisation (Bhansali, 2015).

Haes and Grembergen (2015) mentioned that information governance helps the organisation to reduce risk through protecting information to preserve its value. It diminished technology and human error to minimise the misadventure or inappropriate use of data. The content of IT governance is based on structural (assigning responsibilities), procedural (shaping user behaviour) and rational (relationship and communication). The information asset is exploited and managed through information governance.

Information governance involves management of data and information in an organisation to facilities and advances the mission of organisation on a consistent basis by providing rule of law as well as ethical norms (Frederickson and Ghere, 2015).

Information governance enables the organisation to handle the data and information by applying a professional code of conduct and guidance. It involves implementation of standardised information protocol and procedures, governance policies, ensure employee comply with legislation and make improvement for quality information management (Weill and Ross, 2013).

Scope for Data management and information governance

The thrust for information governance is based on business strategy and integration with partners. The growth of data has made IT strategy at central of the organisation through standardisation of service structure. The critical concern related to information governance is that data is dealt and managed in legal and secure manner. It is important that good practices and improvement are shared as well as organisational processes support change (Kshetri, 2014).

Morabito (2014) studied that the relevant stakeholders should be informed about their rights and duties as well as training and development opportunities should be capitalised. The IT enablers (antecedents) in an organisation are It structure and strategy, IT culture and industry regulations. (Ballard et al., 2014) The procedural practices the information lifecycle management whereas relational practices involve user education and communication.

Composition of Information Governance

Structural practicesProcedural practices

Relational practices

  • Policy and procedures
  • Process and mechanism
  • Data ownership
  • Role and responsibilities
  • Data retention and archiving
  • Backup and monitor access
  • Information value and data protection
  • Service provision and tiers
  • Education and training
  • Communication and idea exchange

Smith (2012) debated that information governance brings together legislation, guidance and code to present a framework for an organisation. This allows the management to deploy handling the information in a consistent way. The IT governance set clear lines for the individuals through defining roles and responsibilities.

The important factors, which ensure effective governance is based on size, scope as well as product and services offered for better decision making. The table below summarise the standards, code of practice, guidance and legislation (Tiwana, Konsynski and Venkatraman, 2013).

Standards, code of practice, guidance and legislation

The Freedom of Information Act 2003

The common law duty of confidentialityUK Data protection act 2002
Data protection regulation 1989The statistics Act 1993

Right to privacy preserved in constitution

European convention on human rights act 2003Social welfare act 2002

ISO 19005 -2005 – Document management

Meaning of ethics applied to information and data

Quinn (2014) discussed that the moral judgement requires an individual to consider a number of factors such as information, conceptual clarity, impartiality and rationality. The normative ethics highlight that individual faces dilemma for moral and ethical decision. Ethics egoism highlights the problem faced by the individual based on the injustice. In addition, ethical altruism elaborates the moral and legal rights of an individual. Utilitarianism discusses the perspective what is right.

The function of privacy highlights the importance of personal autonomy for the individual. The privacy of individual and groups determine how and what extent information is communicated and shared. The social participation of individual made the privacy is voluntary for the individual. Therefore, the relationship of individual and basic right raises ethical concerns (Ferrell and Fraedrich, 2016).

Johns and Joyce (2014) stated that the privacy in the digital age based on the social media and the online database has presented privacy and confidentiality challenges. The personally identifiable information such as tracking and location-based data present privacy challenges. The personal information such as social security number, medical record and financial details of the customer has present online data issues. For example, Google Street views present privacy concern and access to the open public.

To summarise, the ethical big data challenges involves individual and group privacy, propensity and research ethics based on the data protocol of organisation.

Information governance and ethics development in organization

Information governance reference model

Iden and Eikebrokk (2014) stated that to deploy effective information governance and ethics framework in an organisation, it is important that role, responsibilities, and value of information be linked to the organisation. The starting point is conducting an analysis of existing policies and practices. The legal obligation and duty to preserve information allow the identification of information. The value of information for the business is determined through the collection of information from various sources allows determining the information governance requirement of an organisation. Asset highlights the how information automation and storage is address in the organisation (Papazafeiropoulou and Spanaki, 2015).

Information Governance Reference Model | EDRM

Saffady (2015) discussed the principle of the model is based on accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, retention and availability of data. The tale below summarise the application and development of information governance framework in an organisation.

TransparencyThe organisation activities should be documented and available to relevant stakeholders. Process transparency in organisation represents execution and ownership of activities. The integration of policy involves setting goals and rules to promote communication and collaboration.
IntegrityThe data store and processed in the organisation should be reliable and authenticated. The legal and regulatory obligations should be compliance and audited.
Protection and securityThe data record should have the reasonable level of protection of information and record. The information confidentiality secret and continuity need to be assured.
ComplianceThe data storage and security should comply with law and regulations as well as compliance with organisation policies. The process and roles should be integrated.
Availability of data and RetentionThe data record should maintain in efficient and effective manner. The archive and retrieve of information are requirements of the organisation. The record and information in the organisation should meet the fiscal, legal, operational and regulatory requirement.

(Stockdale, 2015; Hagmann, 2013)

Organisational factor and technologies – Information governance

Oliveira and Welch (2013) analysed that big data has knowingly affected the organisation decision to invest in big data technologies. The IT modernisation in organisations results in cost saving, operational efficiency and i.e. technology solutions are linked to big data requirement of the organisation. People, standards and processes are core to information governance.

The organisational factors associated with effective information management and ethics is based on product complexity, IT Culture and strategy, risk mitigation and organisational performance. The products and services offered by the organisation define the IT requirement and information requirement.

IT culture and strategy represent the organisational processes support for the information governance in the organisation. The organisation concerns to address the data security highlight how much organisation is concerned with addressing the data challenge (Kshetri, 2014).

Information Governance: An Ethics Perspective

The big data analytics requires technologies streamline and align with organisation process to ensure efficient and effective control of information asset. The software that is useful to perform ‘predictive analysis’ helps the organisation to evaluate and optimise the big data sources. Moreover, stream analytics and data visualisation can help to aggregate and analyse the data from multiple sources. For example, mobile management App offers better security for the offices files on the mobile platform. The security on the organisational network that deters unauthorised access increased security and reliability of data (Assuncao et al., 2015).

Data Governance Maturity Model

The data analytics based on the cloud such as SaaS allows the organisation to have better control of information. For example, IBM offers new IT infrastructure that can handle the large volume of structured as well as unstructured data along with strong hardware analytic capabilities. The new hardware and software technologies offer better security and privacy of data based on cloud computing.  The diagram below shows the component of big data, which make it distinguish from the legacy systems (Tene and Polonetsky, 2012).

Awareness and techniques to manage ethical issues

Ferrell and Fraedrich (2016) stated that organisation requires procedures and policies to ensure that employee comply with information governance requirement. Effective and efficient information governance is related to communication and teamwork in an organisation. The sharing of the idea and good practices allows raising ethical awareness across the organisation departments and boundaries. The joint initiatives and relationship with partners allow reducing the data duplication while increasing the security of information.

Frederickson and Ghere (2013) debated that the sharing of information with internal and external stakeholder should focus on dealt relevant procedure and legislation, which ensure identifiable information is only shared with a relevant person with duty of care. The employee should aware of organisation internal and external customers’ information rights. The personal information should be dealt with available legislation and evidence. In the case of conflict and information issue, professional assistance should be provided.

Training for the employee and awareness session are useful so that organisation practices and policies are alignments with legislation. The techniques useful to handle the data and information include information handling activities as well as employee training and development. The success of information governance is based on the support for the change. The self-assessment tool available online on a website would allow the user to seek support and assistance (Floridi, 2013).

The assessment of current information governance enables to make the improvement. The identification of gap allows updating policies that are out-of-date or mission. The data should be stored in the secure and confidential manner and inappropriate as well as unlawful access should be restricted (Kitchin, 2014).

For example, the employee should not be allowed to share passwords and record stored with care.  The role and responsibilities for an employee should clearly define and duty to protect confidential information communicated across the organisation (Haes and Grembergen, 2015).


The advent of big data has revolutionised the business practices and business has understood the value of information as an asset. The data security, privacy and right of user presented the organisation with complex legal and regulatory challenges. The new sources of data have resulted in variety, volume and velocity of data. This has led to duplicated, incomplete, inconsistent and fragmented data for the public sector.

The improve data structure and security protocol based increase public trust and confidence in big data. The information security and confidentiality offers opportunity to manage information securely and accurate information improve the quality of service. Information governance protocol deploys appropriate management structure and arrangement that protect the interest and right of the stakeholders. The advantage of information governance that organisation can provide appropriate services in a timely manner.

The IT enablers (antecedents) in an organisation are It structure and strategy, IT culture and industry regulations. Moreover, inhibitors are legacy IT system, IT culture as well as product and services offered by the organisation. The principle of the model is based on accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, retention and availability of data.

The organisation risk profile and IT infrastructure enable the organisation to select big data technologies and deploy information governance framework in an organisation. The new hardware and software technologies offer better security and privacy of data based on cloud computing. The personal information should only disclose to legitimate offer and employee should be familiar with information governance protocols.

The guidance and advice must be clear for internal and external stakeholder. The organisational policies and procedures must well understand by the employee to promote ethical behaviour.


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