Data Hazards - Labelling risks in data science projects

Jessica Espinosa • September 2022

Data Hazard
Data has become one of the most valuable intangible assets a company or organisation can have. As more and more data is accumulated, companies face growing complexity and opaqueness in data management, in some cases even leading to data breaches that put at risk people’s private information and harm the company. In this context, the Data Hazards Project was created to raise awareness of the ethical implications of the use and management of data.

The Data Hazards Project is an initiative created by data scientists as a way to communicate what might go wrong in data science projects or the overall management of data. Nowadays, many projects that have a significant societal impact do not take into consideration the negative impacts and ethical implications they could have. Through the Data Hazard Labels (with a similar design to hazard labels for chemicals) the project aims at raising awareness of the risks and precautions people must have when handling data. The Labels are not meant as a way to scare or stop anyone from doing data science but rather to take into consideration the ethics behind data use and management. Here you can find the different Data Hazard Labels and contribute to the project.

Similarly to our Digital Trust Label (DTL), the Data Hazard Labels addresses topics such as privacy, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for automated decision-making, informed consent, the reproduction of biases and discrimination, and data misuse. Going a step further, the Digital Trust Labels guarantees that a digital service is free of these hazards by making sure it fulfils the 35 criteria among the categories of security, data protection, reliability and fair user interaction. Moreover, it is important to highlight that the DTL is mainly focused on empowering consumer decision-making, while the Data Hazard Labels aim at raising awareness among data scientists and other people working with data on the potential risks of this, making these projects good complements.

Are labels a viable step towards promoting data ethics? It is yet to be seen. Labels are easy-to-understand visual representations that provide information about a product or a service, becoming a distinctive and recognisable mark for the public. For example, with the Digital Trust Label, a digital service denotes its trustworthiness in clear, visual and plain, non-technical language for everyone to understand.

If you are a digital service provider interested in getting the Digital Trust Label, please contact us through or email us directly at

About the Swiss Digital Initiative

The Swiss Digital Initiative (SDI) is an independent, non-profit Foundation based in Geneva, founded in 2020 by digitalswitzerland and under the patronage of Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer. The SDI pursues concrete projects to secure ethical standards and promote responsible conduct in the digital world. It brings together academia, government, civil society and business to find solutions to strengthen trust in digital technologies and the actors involved in ongoing digital transformation.