The big news this week is that our new Advocacy and campaign director’s contract is signed, so I can share who it is! Jonathan Smith has been Head of Campaigns at Shelter for the last four years and before that at the Fairtrade Foundation as well as having previously worked at other organisations such as Save the Children, Help the Aged and Comic Relief. He isn’t from the world of data, but I definitely count this as an advantage, as we want to find ways of talking about collective data governance in ways that make sense for people who aren’t embedded in this space. I’m very much looking forward to Jonathan joining the team and introducing him to everyone!
Exploring the future
Several of the conversations I’ve had, and things I’ve read, this week have been exploring the kind of future we might be heading towards, and how we should shape it.
I’ve been chatting to Astha about community-level data governance, which we think is vital to reflect local context, norms and values. It’s fairly easy to see how local decision making could work for data collected at a local level, for local-level needs – for organisations like the Brixham Data Trust, for example (I chatted to the people behind that initiative this week as well). But we were also thinking about local or community data governance for data held by systems that operate internationally, and thus cover multiple locales and communities, such as Facebook.
Of course international organisations already deal with different legal rules operating in different jurisdictions, such as with local censorship (we always think about the great firewall of China for this, but it also applies to things like reporting injunctions and the limitations Germany places on Streetview). And individuals can obviously set preferences both about what they share and about what they see. So it doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility to enable community-level controls of these types, if there’s a mechanism for working out who has authority to do so…
Other pieces about the future that I encountered this week:
- The Paradox of Open by Open Future, examining how the open movement should respond to how the internet has consolidated and inequities in who benefits from open assets.
- Understanding “New Power”, from 2014, talking about the expectations of the new generation in terms of co-production; I came across this in the context of New Power Universities by Jonathan Hunt, which explores how universities will need to operate to satisfy Gen Z students.
- This thread by Cory Doctorow, riffing off this Wired piece, examines a more public-spirited take on decentralisation and Web3, which includes community-focused and collective stewardship of data.
New legislation, new direction, new data protection
As expected, the Queen’s Speech included a blink-and-you’d-miss-it announcement that the government intends to introduce the new Data Reform Bill this parliamentary session. A little more detail about what it will contain was included within the background briefing notes. The Data: a new direction consultation last year contained a number of proposals, but most of them weren’t really legislation-ready, and we haven’t yet seen the government’s response to the responses it received.
There is absolutely no chance that the Data Reform Bill will go as far as I’d like to see it in terms of embedding collective and community-level data governance (eg to introduce changes like those recommended by the Committee of Experts on the Indian Non-Personal Data Governance Framework). Instead, we’re going to be targeting small changes to the legitimate interests lawful basis to encourage organisations to adopt collective data governance practices.
I spent a bit of time this week studying the Parliament website to work out the process and likely timeline for the Bill, and to identify politicians and peers who might be interested in it. That includes working through the memberships of various APPGs that I reckon might be interested in our particular take on data, including those looking at community building, deliberative democracy, social entrepreneurship, and corporate governance as well as the obvious technology-focused groups. Hopefully this will be useful as we design our campaign.
Other stuff that I did this week included:
- I started writing down where my head is at about how we might approach fundraising.
- I attended the OpenSafely oversight group which was interesting as always. Very much looking forward to Jess’s promised blog on the Patient Advisory Group.
- I spoke at an OECD webinar looking at barriers to openness, where I focused on public trust and how to build it through participation. You can see my slides for that (including speaker notes) if you follow the link.