From data rights to data empowerment: rethinking approaches in data for development projects
(World Wide Web Foundation)
Paper short abstract:
This paper argues that data for development projects should move from a perspective of data rights to data empowerment, where people can access data that interest them, are empowered to use data to promote theirs and the public's good, and are free to exercise control over their personal data.
Paper long abstract:
This paper argues that the discourse on data needs to be framed using a rights-based approach. This means that (1) policies, programs, activities in the collection, access and use of people's data should be aimed at fulfilling human rights; and (2) that initiatives need to be developed to strengthen the capacities of rights-holders (the people) and for duty-bearers (governments, corporations, non-state actors) to meet their obligations. However, this paper also argues that this is not enough. Enabling conditions need to be made to ensure that people are aware of their rights, able to exercise them, and are able to demand for redress when these rights have been violated. Thus we argue that significant investments need to be made in order to enable people to actualize their rights; thus data empowerment. People need to be made aware of their right to privacy and how they will be able to exercise it to protect themselves and their relations. People also need to be capacitated not only to demand disclosure of data about key issues that interest them, but also be able to use the data to exact accountability from public institutions, including governments and the private sector. This paper argues that data for development actors should employ a data empowerment lens in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of data for development projects to ensure inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.