RECOMMENDED: Rethinking Data and Rebalancing Digital Power

The Ada Lovelace Institute released a new report, “Rethinking data and rebalancing digital power.” Developed by the Rethinking data working group, co-chaired by Diane Coyle (Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge) and Paul Nemitz (Principal Adviser on Justice Policy, European Commission and visiting Professor of Law at College of Europe), the report sought to “imagine rules and institutions that can shift power over data and make it benefit people and society.”

The working group co-chairs note that:

We began this work in 2020, only a few months into the pandemic, at a time when public discourse was immersed in discussions about how technologies – like contact tracing apps – could be harnessed to help address this urgent and unprecedented global health crisis.

The potential power of data to affect positive change – to underpin public health policy, to support isolation, to assess infection risk – was perhaps more immediate than at any other time in our lives. At the same time, concerns such as data injustice and privacy remained.

It was in this climate that our working group sought to explore the relationship people have with data and technology, and to look towards a positive future that would centre governance, regulation and use of data on the needs of people and society, and contest the increasingly entrenched systems of digital power.

The working group discussions centred on questions about power over both data infrastructures, and over data itself. Where does power reside in the digital ecosystem, and what are the sources of this power? What are the most promising approaches and interventions that might distribute power more widely, and what might that rebalancing accomplish?

The report highlights four intersecting interventions:

  1. Transforming infrastructure into open and interoperable ecosystems.
  2. Reclaiming control of data from dominant companies.
  3. Rebalancing the centres of power with new (non-commercial) institutions.
  4. Ensuring public participation as an essential component of technology policymaking.

The full report is available for download.

Source: Auto Draft

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Kayla Abner, Tierney Gleason, Corinne Guimont, Lorena O'English, Soni Wadhwa (Editors-at-large for the week), Claudia Berger and Pamella Lach (Editors for the week), Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Linsey Ford, Hillary Richardson, John Russell, and Rachel Starry (dh+lib Review Editors).