Behind the scenes

News and views

Beset by train strikes and snow, a small group of us gathered this week in London for a Connected Conversation session with Professor Shoshana Zuboff, author of the 2019 book ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’, and a new paper titled ‘Surveillance Capitalism or Democracy? The Death Match of Institutional Orders and the Politics of Knowledge in Our Information Civilization’. Our discussion was framed by questions of strategy: what are the most promising avenues to encourage a rethinking of how data is governed, and how different strategies of organisations and movements fit together (or not)?

 Read more

We held the first in our Connected Conversations series earlier this month, bringing together a number of data governance thinkers, practitioners and campaigners from four continents to explore current contours of data and AI regulation around the world.

In our hour-long discussion we just scratched the surface of the different opportunities and challenges present when it comes to putting communities at the heart of data governance, and we’re confident that there is value in continuing and deepening the conversation, particularly with a focus on the narratives and agendas around data at play in the G7 and G20 over the coming years.

Put briefly, contributions pointed to both opportunities to innovate and build models of collective data governance within existing and nascent legal frameworks, and to the need to critically engage with advancing data policy agendas to make sure they don’t narrow, undermine or sideline the space for data governance that takes account of community impacts and democratic voice.

 Read more

This post was originally written to follow up a workshop of the Data Trusts Initiative, and is cross-posted from the Data Trusts Initiative blog.

How can the individuals and communities affected by decisions about data be more engaged in shaping and making those decisions?

New institutions of data governance, such as data co-operatives and data trusts provide an important framework for enabling data stewardship to be better aligned with community or public interest (by contrast, for example, to corporate structures oriented towards prioritising shareholder interests). However, even with trusts or co-ops, for interest alignment to actually take place, there is a need for ongoing and in-depth participatory practice.

 Read more

Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), announced a new, British, approach to data protection at the October 2022 Conservative Party Conference. It seems the Johnson government’s new direction for data, which culminated in the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill introduced in Parliament in July, is to be revised through more consultation, though it appears not a public one.

GDPR isn’t perfect and it would be great if the UK could be bold in changing data protection laws to build on and move beyond GDPR. Unfortunately, the Bill as it stands takes backwards steps rather than confronting future – or even current – challenges. Its focus on simply reducing regulation, especially for small businesses, is misplaced and out of step with the kind of regulation the modern data economy needs.

 Read more

When I first started CONNECTED BY DATA, one of the first things I thought about was the website’s privacy policy. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if we could demonstrate the kind of approaches that we’re advocating for in our own practice. But then there was so much other stuff to do – website content, hiring, finance, strategy work, engagement, projects, fundraising, writing, and so on and on – that it was easier to use a couple of off-the-shelf data protection policies for recruitment and just to not even track website analytics.

Then we got going on our advocacy work, and started organising events. And this meant we needed to collect data – personally identifiable data – and about privacy advocates! The worst kind of data subject. We knew we had to take a proper look at our data protection approach.

 Read more

Weeknotes are a combination of updates and personal reflection written on a routine basis

Do you collect, use or share data?

We can help you build trust with your customers, clients or citizens

 Read more

Do you want data to be used in your community’s interests?

We can help you organise to ensure that data benefits your community

 Read more