Technology firms have a moral duty to ensure the big data trend does not "cross the creepy line" and upset customers, according to Gartner.
In a blog post, the analyst's research vice president Frank Buytendijk said tech firms need to do more than just assure customers their data is being stored in line with local regulations.
"Almost all organisations already claim to be doing the right thing with data – pointing to their compliance officer or compliance reporting," he said. "Compliance, however, is just the bare minimum and largely irrelevant from an ethical perspective.
"An angry public does not care whether or not an organisation is compliant with the law if, through its action or inaction, sensitive information about them falls into the wrong hands or is used in undesirable ways. Successful businesses will be keenly aware of the moral climate they operate in, and will operate well within acceptable thresholds."
He added that the issue of ethics and morals can tumble down the to-do list of companies when technology moves at such a fast pace.
"People generally avoid talk of ethics and morality in the workplace, but we need to master this way of thinking again," he said. "Businesses do not exist in a moral vacuum where we measure success or failure solely by clear metrics such as efficiency, effectiveness, profit or shareholder returns.
"Businesses exist in a world full of customers, regulators, media and activists who judge everything through a moral lens. This collective sentiment directly affects the environment within which any business operates."
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