Upcoming and previous events

Presentations, panels and conferences

How can AI developers and decision-makers gain access to informed public input? What role can deliberative mini-publics play in shaping the future of AI?

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In late 2023, Mydata Global, Aapti Institute, The Datasphere Initiative, and Connected by Data published ‘In This Together: Combining Individual and Collective Strategies to Confront Data Power, a short think piece that looks at how advocacy for better data governance can draw upon the tools of both individual data rights, and collective data governance.

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Data-driven technologies and AI within EdTech are entering the school and classroom environment at pace, and are likely to increase. The UK government has recently made a series of announcements, including the promise of an AI assistant for every teacher. But concerns abound on the objectives and impact of this push, from displacing the need for new bricks and mortar and working conditions for school staff with tech-fixes, or the poorly understood effect of the learning experiences of children.

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Almost every modern policy reform relies on new data systems, and increasingly involves technologies labelled as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make and shape decisions. Whether that’s education, health, benefits, housing, social care, work, policing, democratic engagement or a multitude of other areas.

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Not a day goes by where data and AI isn’t in the news. Yet the most prominent voices tend to be tech CEOs, often overly focused on remote and extreme threats.

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On 30th January 2024 we hosted a conversation to share findings from, and have a wider discussion about, the implications of “Our Health Data Stories”; a report written by Just Treatment and Connected by Data. The report aims to bring out the personal stories of a range of patients as they encounter, think about, and respond to health data collection and use, to ground understanding and action in lived experience and help deliver person-centred care. It exposes how patients think about data on a day-to-day basis, and how this affects their approach to their health data and the way they use health services. And it recommends further work around data opt-outs, data service procurement, community engagement, and digital health apps. In our conversation we sought reactions to report, and also discussed action to be taken in response to the findings.

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How can affected communities have a powerful voice in shaping the adoption of data-driven technology in schools?

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The Datasphere Initiative put together two webinars with a focus on the Mercosur region, one focusing on data governance and the other on AI.

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On Wednesday 6 December 2023, techUK and partners brought together world leading academics, philosophers, lawyers, technology experts, policy makers and other key stakeholders at techUK’s seventh Digital Ethics Summit.

We were delighted to attend the event with members of our People’s Panel on AI to open the Summit with a fireside chat about the process, learnings and the Panel’s recommendations.

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Described as an “essential part of [a data processor’s] accountability obligations” by the ICO, Data Protection Impact Assessments are intended to support the identification and preemption of harms prior to data processing, and are a key piece of evidence for effectively contesting processes or decisions by companies, the government and other data processors.

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In September 2023, Connected by Data brought together a diverse group of civil society, government and academic stakeholders on the fringes of the 2023 Open Government Partnership Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, to co-design model policy commitments that could deliver meaningful transparency, participation and accountability in data and AI governance.

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What does it take to have informed, empowered and deliberative dialogue about the impacts of data and artificial intelligence?

From 22nd to 24th November 2023, Connected by Data and Iswe convened a group of thinkers and practitioners who work on public engagement, data and artificial intelligence to explore interventions that could support greater deliberative governance of technology.

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This connected conversation brought together different perspectives to explore how rights, harms, and norms can be conceptualised in ways that may be applicable, and helpful, within the data governance discourse. We invited speakers who shared their views about norms in data governance, as well as in the context of the climate crisis, to explore how learning can be shared across these domains.

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The Democracy Network has organized a series of AI & Democracy webinars, and I attended the “Using Collective Intelligence to Govern AI” one. Flynn Devine, an Open AI grantee, presented his Recursive Public project, which uses a consensus-finding digital democratic process pioneered by vTaiwan to set the agenda by mapping the big questions everyone thinks we need answers to.

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The People’s Panel on AI is bringing together 12 diverse members of the public to attend, observe and discuss Fringe events. The Panel presented reflections and recommendations from the week at 13:30 UK time on Friday 3rd November.

After engaging with the AI Fringe, looking at the outcomes of the AI Safety Summit, and talking to experts about their hopes and fears for AI, what priorities did members of the public have for the future governance of AI?

Read the Panel’s Recommendations here.

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Many of us – in civil society, industry, academia and elsewhere – criticised the narrow, ‘frontier’ focus of the UK’s AI Safety Summit. So, as part of the AI and Society Forum – an unconference running alongside the AI Fringe on Tuesday 31 October – CONNECTED BY DATA ran a workshop inviting people to come up with their own, alternative agenda for Bletchley Park.

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I remotely attended the first meeting organised by the C20 Brasil (Civil20 Brasil), one of the engagement groups of G20.

I noticed the excitement and optimism for using the G20 Brasil process as an opportunity to create everlasting change for civil society engagement in the country around pressing social and economic issues, hoping to connect different actors whose work is intertwined.

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The week before the UK’s AI Safety Summit we hosted a more closed Connected Conversation (to enable a safe space for honest conversation). The attendees, largely from civil society organisations, discussed the framing of the Summit and how “safety” is defined.

The notes of this connected conversation are only shared with participants.

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This Data & Society webinar marked the launch of Professor Michele Gilman’s report “Democratizing AI: Principles for Meaningful Public Participation.” During the conversation, she advocated for the need for a shared concept of what “public participation” means: without it, we may end up with models that are very tokenistic or ritualistic or even exploitative of the public.

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On 19th October, CONNECTED BY DATA brought together a group of participants to explore issues related to collective data governance, and particularly, to discuss the concept of ‘community’.

The term ‘community’ can be used in different ways, so the objective was to talk about what we really mean by a ‘community’, and what sort of communities there might be in the context of data governance. This can guide our thinking when we explore ways of getting communities involved in governing data and AI, or when negotiating access to data, or empowering communities to seek redress.

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AI, data rights, the power of big tech, online safety… digital, data and technology policy is breaking into the political mainstream like never before. Any incoming Labour government will need to make the most of the opportunities afforded by new tech and the better use of data to deliver on its industrial strategy and public services plans – while protecting the public against the risks, hype and vested interests. So what should a Labour administration do – and not do?

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How can we protect and empower communities in an era of artificial intelligence – and how should the Green Party approach the governance of data and AI? These were the overarching questions posed by our executive director, Jeni Tennison, to Natalie Bennett (former leader of the Green Party and now a member of the House of Lords) and Andy Stirling (Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex) at the Green Party conference in Brighton.

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On 27th September we held an online conversation about collective data rights, which shared the results of an analysis we commissioned from AWO of three concrete scenarios (in policing, surge pricing, and online content moderation) in which people harmed by automated decision making are not data subjects. After sharing this analysis, we had a wider discussion on collective versus individual rights, on the scenarios raised, and wider issues of data governance.

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CONNECTED BY DATA is pleased to have been accepted to be part of the 2023 cohort of Hogan Lovells’ BaSE training programme.

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Last week, as part of our Connected Conversations series, we brought together a fantastic group of panellists and discussants to look at how communities are gaining voice in the governance of data and AI in different settings around the world. The session focused on examples of efforts to engage affected communities in the governance of AI at different levels, internationally. This is particularly important and interesting in the run up to the UK AI Summit.

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On 21st- 22nd September 2023, we attended the “Beyond Data Protection Conference: Regulating Information and Protection against Risks of the Digital Society” in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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As datafication accelerates, and algorithmic or artificial intelligence systems are adopted across public and private sectors, governments need to adopt bold measures that can deliver effective governance of data and AI. Three critical aspects of this will be transparency, public participation, and redress. However, policy advocacy in these areas has been relatively underdeveloped. This design lab developed model committment drafts to inform future open government action.

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In August, I also attended the 14th Privacy and Personal Data Protection Seminar, organised by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI) and the Brazilian Network Information Centre (NIC.br) in São Paulo. In light of Brazil’s G20 presidency, the already well-established event gained even more importance this year.

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On August 10th, I attended the first Think20 Brasil Mobilization Meeting (T20 Brasil), organised by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) in partnership with the Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation (Funag) and the Brazilian Center for International Relations (Cebri). It was an effort to bring together representatives from think tanks, academic institutions, and civil society and share how the group will work during Brazil’s rotating presidency of the G20 in 2024.

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Wales TUC are looking into how AI is affecting workers across different sectors, and how trade unionists are managing the increasing roll out of data-driven technologies

Wales TUC - supported by Dr Juan Grigera from Kings College London and Adam Cantwell-Corn from Connected by Data - are investigating how workers in a range of sectors are responding to digitalisation and AI at work. This write up is intended to capture the key comments by the workers, which will later inform a full report.

Artificial intelligence is having a dehumanising effect on workers as they are continuously monitored. What’s more, it’s leading to workers being deskilled, their tasks restructured and sometimes managed out of their jobs.

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New technology is being forced on workers without consent. But trade union members are determined to resist the negative aspects of artificial intelligence.

Wales TUC are looking into how AI is affecting workers across different sectors, and how trade unionists are managing the increasing roll out of data-driven technologies.

Wales TUC - supported by Dr Juan Grigera from Kings College London and Adam Cantwell-Corn from Connected by Data - are investigating how workers in a range of sectors are responding to digitalisation and AI at work. This write up is from the second workshop in the project. The first write up is available here.

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In July, we attended the Latin America edition of the most important conference in the field of data protection after being kindly offered a complimentary ticket by the organisers. It was an amazing opportunity to meet up with colleagues I had not seen since the pandemic and honour Danilo Doneda, who, on top of being the first to engage with data protection discussions in Brazil, was also my first boss in the field. And, as any good paulistana, make fun of cariocas’ accent.

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Amid the hype and worry about the data-driven transformation of our world, there is often something conspicuously missing: personal stories. They ground our understanding that this change is not a remote future, but is a reality in progress that is affecting every relationship and interaction we have, as workers, family members, consumers and as citizens.

In an effort to address this and build on these case studies, Connected by Data worked with Mary Towers of the TUC’s AI project and affiliate unions to support three workers with direct experience of AI to be in conversation with MPs. On the 20th June, in the grand setting of Committee Room 9 of the House of Commons, a packed audience of trade unionists, policy professionals, politicians and journalists heard first hand how AI is affecting workers in the here and now.

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Three members of the Connected by Data team (Maria, Helena and Tim) attended the Data Justice conference in Cardiff on 19th and 20th June. On the 20th we ran a workshop to trial our game-based activity for exploring data governance, and we engaged in sessions across the rest of the conference, capturing notes on a number of these as written up below.

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Tim spoke as part of this online panel with Natalie Bennet (Green Party, House of Lords) and Steve Wells.

The panel explored potential impacts of AI, and pathways for AI regulation.

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Jeni will be speaking in this RightsCon dialogue “Reimagine data rights now! protecting individual data isn’t enough when the harm is collective”, chaired by Martin Tisné from Luminate, Zeynep Tufecki from Colombia University, Urvashi Aneja from the Digital Futures Lab, and Jun-E Tan from the Khazanah Research Institute.

We have a huge problem in the field in that the entire regulatory infrastructure to hold big tech to account, to support our rights online is based when it comes to data is based on individual rights alone.

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Jeni chaired this RightsCon roundtable, bringing together Astha Kapoor from the Aapti Institute, Alison Gillwald from Research ICT Africa, and Carolina Rossini from the Datasphere Initiative.

To date, most data governance laws, policies and frameworks around the world have focussed on addressing individual data harms, and creating individual rights. However, we believe the governance of data needs to better account for data’s relational qualities, collective harms and public value.

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On 4th June, CONNECTED BY DATA, in partnership with Aapti Institute, Research ICT Africa, Aapti Institute and The Datasphere Initiative convened a workshop to explore global policy agendas on collective data governance.

The session explored building shared language, mapping policy landscapes, developing policies for collective data governance, and prioritising local and global advocacy opportunities.

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On Thursday 25th May 2023, CONNECTED BY DATA and Future Narratives Lab held a narrative design lab workshop, bringing together invited experts to start the co-creation of a strategy for shifting the inaccurate, damaging way data is currently framed & understood in media, policy and industry narratives.

The session followed a process of identifying problems, exploring promising solutions, and identifying opportunities for action. Discussions took place through three distinct tracks focussing on policy and politics, media, and industry.

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Tim attended a meeting of the Network of the Datasphere.

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With the UK Government’s Artificial Intelligence White Paper out for consultation until 21 June, the Ada Lovelace Institute convened a roundtable of various stakeholders under Chatham House rules to discuss responses to the landmark document.

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Parliamentary scrutiny of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (No.2) kicked off on 10 May 2023 with the opening day of the Public Bill Committee.

The cross party Committee, comprised of 17 MPs and chaired by Ian Paisley Jr (DUP) and Philip Hollobone (Con), is charged with scrutinising the Bill line by line and will run to no later than 13 June.

On the first day, the Committee heard evidence from a range of stakeholders, including the ICO, business and tech interests and civil society, including CONNECTED BY DATA’s Jeni Tennison.

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The first Gloucestershire Data Day (#GlosDataDay) took place on April 26th 2023, supported by Connected by Data along with Creative Gloucestershire, Active Gloucestershire and Barnwood Trust. It brought together 150 participants representing grassroots community groups, local authorities, artists, data scientists and national government agencies to discuss ways to be inspired, informed and empowered with data.

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Tim chaired a discussion on ‘Global Observations on the State of Open Data’ as part of a series of roundtables organised to update the State of Open Data book.

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On Thursday 20th April, the Connected by Data team (Tim, Obioma and Alan) participated in a meeting of the Grassroots Poverty Action Group (GPAG). This group provides regular input for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), helping to ensure that the Foundation’s work is informed by people with lived experience of poverty and inequality from across the UK. We met with the members of GPAG as part of the stakeholder and ecosystem mapping that we are doing with JRF to support the design of a poverty insight infrastructure.

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We recently hosted our penultimate JRF ecosystem mapping and engagement workshop to discuss our working draft of stakeholder engagement and the governance strategies for the insight infrastructure project.

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Jeni spoke on this panel, organised by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and chaired by Cllr Lisa Smart, at the Liberal Democrat Spring Party Conference 2023, alongside Silkie Carlo from Big Brother Watch and Martha Dark from Foxglove Legal.

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Tim attended and participated on the panel for this full-day workshop at the Sciences Po Law School, co-organised by Datasphere Initiative, Aapti Institute and the Ostrom Workshop.

A partial write-up can be found in Tim’s weeknotes.

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Tim attended a working group meeting on Data Communities organized by Sciences Po Law School’s Towards a Digital Rule of Law Initiative and the Datasphere Initiative, with the Aapti Institute and the Ostrom Workshop.

Reflections from the workshop can be found in Tim’s weeknotes here.

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As the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill continues its erratic legislative journey, we convened an open call for interested parties to share, discuss and maybe act together. In this open Zoom meeting, Gavin Freeguard chaired an open discussion of first reactions and thoughts in a confidential and trusted space.

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On Thursday 9 March 2023, CONNECTED BY DATA, working with Labour Together, convened a workshop with experts from civil society (and Labour advisers) to consider:

  • what principles should underpin progressive data, digital and technology policy
  • what some specific policies could look like

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On 6th March 2023, CONNECTED BY DATA organised a workshop for Justice Lab (an initiative of the Legal Education Foundation), to explore the next steps they should take around their work to increase public participation in the governance of data within the justice system.

The workshop brought together researchers, civil society advocates and campaigners, journalists and practitioners to explore the questions:

  • What does it take to make work in this space influential?
  • What topics are most likely to generate buy-in?
  • What methodological approaches are most effective for influencing decision making?
  • Who needs to be engaged when developing public engagement research, and how?
  • Which decision makers/decision points should work in this space target? E.g. decisions about the way data is created, or how data is used?
  • What’s the communications strategy around the work needed to achieve impact?

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On 6th March 2023, we hosted the second of our workshop sessions to explore the potential ecosystem around, and stakeholder engagement in, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) plans to develop an Insight Infrastructure on poverty in the UK.

You can read a write-up of the workshop here.

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On 21st February, we hosted the first of our workshop sessions to explore the potential ecosystem around, and stakeholder engagement in, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) plans to develop an Insight Infrastructure on poverty in the UK.

You can read a write-up of the workshop here.

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On 5th December 2022, CONNECTED BY DATA organised an event in parliament, hosted and chaired by Lord Tim Clement-Jones, to explore three key areas around the future of data governance: automated decision-making, data at work and data in schools.

These are all areas that could be affected by the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, expected to return to parliament for its second reading at some point in 2023. We think the Bill represents an opportunity to influence how data is governed in a more democratic and participatory way, but worry that – in its present form – it undermines existing safeguards and misses the chance to extend democratic data governance.

The three areas under discussion also represent domains where growing data collection and use could have both significant benefits and harms in the future, regardless of what happens to the Bill. The event invited opening contributions from civil society and academic experts on each topic before opening up to a wider discussion. The experts were on the record unless they requested otherwise, with everyone else being unattributed under the Chatham House Rule.

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Jeni spoke at this roundtable at the 2022 Internet Governance Forum, convened by Research ICT Africa, alongside Abeba Birhane and Anita Gurumurthy, chaired by Alison Gilwald.

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During a session of the 2022 Internet Governance Forum, Tim spoke to the launch of a new paper on ‘Data Governance and the Datasphere’, providing a bibliometric-driven literature review of academic and policy work on data governance.

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Tim participated in the the London workshop organised by CIFAR on Examining Cooperative Governance of Data & Technology.

The workshop, linked to the Data Communities for Inclusion three year programme of work exploring the creation and governance of an ”open-access data infrastructure platform” intended to “help women agricultural workers in India gain fair access to a competitive marketplace”.

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Jeni spoke in a closing dialogue with Martin Tisné, Vice President at Luminate Strategic Initiatives, about The data delusion: protecting individual data isn’t enough when the harm is collective.

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Tim and Jonathan attended a launch event for the Data Justice Lab report, “Civic Participation in the Datafied Society - Towards Democratic Auditing?” and the associated website Datafied Society

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Jeni spoke on this panel alongside Laura Gilbert, Director of Data Science at No.10 Downing Street; Dr. Hatim Abdulhussein from Health Education England; and Lisa Allen from the Open Data Institute.

In the wake of the pandemic, the government aims to make significant cost savings by reducing the civil service headcount. Technology, it says, can help shoulder the burden of this reduced workforce.

This has put automation in the spotlight. RPA was touted as a way to cut through the admin backlog that piled up during lockdowns, and many public sector bodies put it to good use. But can it really replace a significant proportion of the civil service’s workforce?

This panel will assess the state of play for automation, including RPA and its combination with AI and other process technologies, in the UK public sector, and ask how the public sector can get the most out of the technology.

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On 30th September 2022, CONNECTED BY DATA organised a civil society workshop to explore the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

As we wait for the date for the second reading of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, many civil society organisations have different concerns and interests, and can see different opportunities and risks.

Here at CONNECTED BY DATA, for example, we think the Bill presents a real opportunity to influence how data is democratically and participatively governed, to ensure it works for us all, as part of the UK’s post-GDPR future. However, we also fear that, in its present form, the Bill reduces individual citizens’ control and influence, removes transparency and key safeguards, limits opportunities for engagement and ignores evidence about the collective and equality impacts of data processing and AI.

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Jeni spoke on this panel, organised by the Institute for Government with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, at the Labour Party Conference 2022.

Technology is profoundly reconfiguring our society, creating new opportunities but also new risks and inequalities. Many politicians and policymakers have a limited understanding of technology and its effects, yet government has no choice but to grapple with these issues. How do we take technology out of the box labelled ‘digital policy’ and give it the attention it needs at the heart of policy and public life? How should we reform government to take advantage of technology? What kind of state do we need in a digital age?

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Jeni gave the Significance Lecture during the Royal Statistical Society 2022 Conference that took place in Aberdeen in September.

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Tim participated in a roundtable discussion exploring learning from public participation around the ‘General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR)’ programme.

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Tim participated in a workshop organised by the Data Trusts Initiative, and led by Simon Burral of Involve, exploring approaches to embed participatory governance into the pilot data trusts supported by DTI.

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Jonathan attended the online launch of the Digital Futures Commission report on the reality of education data.

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Tim was one of the respondent panelists for the first Open Future salon on ‘Introducing the Public Data Commons: Business-to-Government data sharing in the public interest’.

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Tim chaired a discussion on Open Data and AI as part of a series of roundtables organised to update the State of Open Data book, with Jeni appearing as one of the three panelists.

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Tim was an online participant in the hybrid Data Power 2022 Conference.

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Jeni spoke on the panel, discussing GPAI’s work on data stewardship to address the climate crisis and making the case for more community-level involvement.

Digital technology is increasingly recognised for its potential to bolster international efforts to address climate change: a complex global challenge that calls for a data-driven systems approach. To this end, climate models, using earth observation data and running on supercomputers, have been central to understanding and finding solutions climate change.

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Jeni spoke at the workshop, describing some of the ways in which organisations are bringing the public into the processes of data governance.

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Jeni spoke on the RightsCon panel “Putting the ‘good’ in health data as a public good?”.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the collection of health data – underscoring the importance of good governance to uphold the highest standards of data protection and respect human rights. In June 2021, the World Health Organization called for a new global consensus on “health data as a global public good,” with a focus on data sharing for improved health outcomes. But what does health data as a public good mean in real-world contexts?

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RightsCon 2022

Jeni Tennison -

Both Jeni and Tim attended RightsCon, which is the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age.

It was a full-on event, with a week’s worth of panels and discussions and often four or five sessions to choose from at any one time. We barely scratched the surface, but here are our reflections from the sessions we did manage to attend, in particular focusing on how they relate to our work at CONNECTED BY DATA.

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Jeni spoke on the panel: Measures for fostering trust and addressing unjustified barriers to data openness.

Given the benefits of digitalisation and data openness and the legitimate concerns and risks, it is fundamental to build effective and trustworthy data governance arrangements (e.g. regulations, policies and practices). Without effective approaches, stakeholders can face significant barriers when trying to access, share and re-use data within and across organisations, sectors and jurisdictions.

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I spoke on the panel: The future of the UK’s digital economy, alongside Bojana Bellamy, John Whittingdale MP, Mahlet Zimata and Cyrus Mewawalla, at the New Statesman and Tech Monitor’s Digital Responsibility Symposium 2022.

The government’s ambition to make post-Brexit Britain a global tech hub could result in the rollback of data protection laws, with the focus turning towards encouraging and enabling technological innovation. What impact will this have on business technology, and those who lead it? Are short-term returns for investors being prioritised over long-term trust in technology? Is GDPR legislation likely to be an early casualty of the government’s strategy – and if so, what can businesses expect in its place?

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I was invited to present to the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation team about the work we’re doing at CONNECTED BY DATA.

CDEI work on the governance of data-driven technology, including an ongoing strand on public attitudes to data and AI.

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Jeni attended the Bennett Institute for Public Policy Annual Conference 2022, which will explore the most pressing public policy issues facing governments and populations amidst plans for economic recovery, resilience, and prosperity.

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Jeni spoke on this panel with leading experts on learning from history to manage technological change as part of the Cambridge Festival 2022.

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On 31st March 2022, the Ada Lovelace Institute held an invite-only roundtable about public attitudes to data, focused on three questions:

  1. What do we currently know about UK public attitudes towards the regulation of data?
  2. What are the gaps in our understanding of those attitudes?
  3. How can we work together to address those gaps?

The event will be written up properly by the Ada Lovelace Institute. I was only in one of the breakout rooms so didn’t hear everything that was said, but do want to reflect on the conversation from a Connected by data perspective. It was held under Chatham House rules, so I won’t be able to attribute the points made in the conversation.

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As one of their affiliated researchers, I was asked by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy to give a brown bag lunch to discuss my thoughts on collective data governance.

After the presentation, the discussion focused on three areas:

  • How to make participatory approaches effective
  • How to get to the future we want to see from where we are now
  • What other sectors or historical shifts to learn from

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Do you collect, use or share data?

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

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

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

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