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Accepted Paper:

Indigenous Data Sovereignty in the digital world of ‘big data’  
Frances Morphy (The Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

Digital technologies are a double-edged sword for indigenous peoples. This paper discusses the global Indigenous Data Sovereignty movement, which aims to combat the deployment of ‘big data’ as a technology of power and reclaim governance over it for purposes of self-determination.

Paper long abstract:

New digital technologies constitute a double-edged sword for indigenous peoples. Digital technologies facilitate the capture, storage and analysis of vast quantities of data – “big data”. And this quantitative data drives policymaking and governance at every level of political organisation, up to the global. Indigenous data sovereignty (IDS) describes a movement that has arisen in response to concerns about the data that state governments and other agencies collect about indigenous peoples, and the uses to which it is put. Its main proponents are themselves indigenous people – academics, representatives from indigenous organisations and government agencies. In the spirit of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, IDS proponents insist on the right of such peoples to be self-determining, including having governance over collection and use of data collected by state agencies and ‘development’ NGOs. They reject the ‘deficit’ view of encapsulated indigenous populations that pervades the attitudes and policies of both settler state governments and development agencies, and that underlies the indicators that frame the data they collect about them. This paper discusses the development of the movement as an increasingly global phenomenon and its attempts to forge an international discourse with national governments and other agencies that gather data on indigenous populations. The aim is not only to change national conversations, but also, at the more local level, to create the conditions and the support for indigenous peoples and their organisations to collect data – for themselves – that is relevant to addressing their self-perceived needs and furthering their own aspirations.

Panel P19a
The promises and challenges of the AI and digital environment for Indigenous peoples' sovereign futures
  Session 1 Tuesday 7 June, 2022, -