The GovLab Commemorates International Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day is an international event celebrated every 28 January to “create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.” Through it, we are reminded just how valuable our data is and the obligation that organizations have to handle it responsibly, ethically, and in accordance with individuals’ rights.

The GovLab has published countless pieces on data privacy and how it is an essential component of data responsibility. To support the conversations happening around the world about this issue, we would like to highlight several publications that we consider especially relevant:

  • Responsible Data for Children Principles: These principles, produced as part of The GovLab’s collaboration with UNICEF, describe the ways in which governments, communities, and development actors can put child rights at the center of their data activities. The principles of “Prevention of Harms Across the Data Lifecycle” and Protective of Children’s Rights” remind organizations of the unique vulnerabilities around data about children. “Professionally Accountable” reinforces the need to provide mechanisms for redress should violations occur. More information on privacy challenges can be found in RD4C’s tools and case studies.
  • Data Responsibility Journey: The Data Responsibility Journey for Data Collaboratives is an assessment tool that outlines the opportunities and risks to consider at each stage of the data lifecycle when implementing a data collaborative. It describes several ways that organizations can promote the data rights and data privacy of data subjects.

  • Selected Readings on Personal Data: Security and Use: This piece of our series provides an annotated and curated collection of pieces on personal data. It provides several articles that explain how organizations can promote privacy by design, describe the factors involved in the governance of online personal data, and offer recommendations for data (re)use.
  • Selected Readings on Data Governance: This second piece from our Selected Readings series builds on the knowledge base on improving data governance. While focused on effectiveness and legitimacy, it includes several pieces that explain how approaches that mitigate privacy risks can improve projects and bolster opinion of them.
  • The GovLab Index: Privacy and Security: This blog is a series of statistics on privacy and security. It describes public attitudes toward their privacy rights in the United States and globally as well as the kinds of privacy-related behaviors people engage in.
  • Digital Self-Determination Studio Series: In collaboration with the Big Data for Migration Alliance and the International Digital Self Determination (DSD) Network, The GovLab hosted a studio series aimed to unpack what the concept of DSD could mean for migrants and principles for their implementation–emphasizing privacy and personal data protections.

  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the GDPR: This guest piece by Ariane Adam in the Data Stewards Network describes the impact of the European Union’s GDPR regulation on open data. Despite concerns that the legislation would prevent the release of data in the name of privacy, the author argues that GDPR “can not only assist in promoting consumer confidence and therefore business growth, but also enable organisations to safely open and share important and valuable datasets.”
  • Reimagining data responsibility: 10 new approaches toward a culture of trust in re-using data to address critical public needs: This article by Stefaan Verhulst in looks at the risk around data science and explores ways to address problems such as data privacy. It outlines 10 approaches and innovations for data responsibility in the 21st century, including end-to-end data responsibility; decision provenance; professionalized data stewardship; and group privacy.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility for a Data Age: Published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, this piece by Stefaan Verhulst argues that data can help improve and safe lives but that harnessing it requires a transformation in how companies, governments, and other organizations operate. It emphasizes the importance of robust data protection, citing several prominent cases of data misuse.
  • Operationalizing Digital Self Determination: In this article, Stefaan argues that data, when used responsibly, can offer new opportunities for the public good. However, this potential is limited by data asymmetries, information, and agency asymmetries that limit human potential. As one solution to rebalancing asymmetries that Stefaan provides is to look at alternative consent mechanisms, including those based around “post-consent privacy.”


These pieces are only a segment of our work overall on data ethics and data responsibility. As we go about encouraging organizations to prioritize data responsibility and data rights in line with the Third Wave of Open Data, we encourage you to follow us at the Data Stewards Network and Open Data Policy Lab.



Responsible Data Leadership to Address the Challenges of the 21st Century

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