The Missing Pillar of Responsible Data or Data Responsibility

by | Jan 8, 2021 | ICT4D |

missing pillar of data portability

Some of us call it responsible data. Others call it data responsibility. While others call it data ethics. Each of us emphasise different things depending on our view. Usually these terms and these conversations revolve around ourselves. How are we managing the data we collect and hold in a manner that is safe, ethical, and effective.

Therefore, we consider things like what data are we collecting, are we keeping it secure, are we following data protection and privacy standards, are we abiding by the law, and so on. In the past year or so, data governance are also becoming more common in these discussions. Primarily, governance is framed as a ‘who has access’ discussion, not a power analysis.

Generally this is good and positive.

However, it tends to be viewed through the lens of us, our organisations. It often lacks the reminder that while we may have collected the data, the data is about others. And this data may be of use to them or they may be served by other organisations in the future. In a simple sense, this is the concept of data portability, not for us, but for those about whom the data is.

People should be able to take their data with them to use how they wish as they interact in other areas of their lives. People should be able to choose to take their data with them when they are being ‘served’ by another organisation. And this should be easy for them. It should not require masses of paperwork, approvals, and so on. The less friction the better.

Responsible data or data responsibility has a missing pillar. Hints about data portability are often in the existing pillars, but often deeply hidden. It’s time to bring them out in front and to move beyond ourselves. So yes, responsible data or data responsibility is about:

  • Data Security, Protection, & Privacy
  • Meeting our ethical frameworks and upholding human rights
  • Making effective use of data – using for the intended purpose, data minimisation, deleting the data when it is no longer needed.

But responsible data or data responsibility is also about ensuring the data about people is portable for them. Not us. But them.

It’s hard to keep talking about how we put the ‘beneficiary’, the ‘recipient’, those we seek to serve at the ‘centre of all we do’ while hoarding the data we have about them and not giving them access to it and ensuring they can use it how they wish.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Micheile Henderson


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *