Communications leaders debate PR ethics and wearable technology at House of Commons

Last night at the House of Commons, in front of an audience of approximately 100 people, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) hosted a Debating Group event to debate the motion that "wearable technology is an ethical nightmare for the communications, marketing and PR professions."

Proposing the motion:

  • Stephen Davies, Founder, Substantial Digital Health
  • Seconded by: Neville Hobson,

Opposing the motion:

  • Stephen Waddington MCIPR, CIPR President, Digital and Social Media Director at Ketchum Europe
  • Seconded by: Claire Walker FCIPR, Chief Executive, Firefly Communications

​During a lively discussion, chaired by CIPR CEO Alastair McCapra, issues of codes of conduct in public relations, data, privacy, technology and healthcare were all debated by the panel, supplemented by 18 contributions from the floor.

At a vote taken at the close of the debate, the motion was defeated, with 28 votes in favour, and 55 votes against.

Excerpt from Stephen Davies' opening remarks
Wearables will create a paranoid society where every event is noted, where every conversation is heard and where corporate reputations will be ruined. The personalized data revolution will eradicate the need for Public Relations in its current form as algorithms and smart advertising cater to the individual’s every need. The coming years are not only going to be an ethical nightmare for the profession, but one where the industry questions its place in the world.
Excerpt from Stephen Davies' opening remarks
Excerpt from Stephen Waddington's opening remarks
Lords, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to recognise the opportunity of the fast growing $3 billion wearable technology market, and recognise that this is not a new ethical challenge for the public relations profession. It is a force for good for improving health. It is means of improving the dialogue between citizen, organisation, stakeholder, and state. I call on you to vote for innovation. Vote for citizens. Vote for the market. Vote that our Codes of Conduct are robust. Vote against this motion. The only way is ethics.
Excerpt from Stephen Waddington's opening remarks

Read Stephen Davies' opening remarks which proposed the motion via the CIPR Conversation.

Read Stephen Waddington's opening remarks which opposed the motion via the CIPR Conversation.

View the Storify of the #PRethics debate below.