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What is the Data Values Project?

We are working together towards a world in which data is used responsibly to produce a more equitable, fair and sustainable future for all. 

We are building a global policy consultation and bringing together diverse and often underrepresented perspectives, research, and experience on major data challenges, leading to joint advocacy based on a common manifesto for action to achieve this vision.

We maintain a separate mailing list for people who to receive updates on the Data Values Project campaign activities, including workshops, events, and news. To sign up, click here.

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What problems is the Data Values Project trying to solve?

We are tackling wide-ranging issues and challenges relating to data use, ethics, rights and governance: 

  1. Growing global inequalities are exacerbated by digital technology and data. 

  2. Data and technology use is outpacing regulation.

  3. Too many people—whether by accident or design—are invisible in data.

  4. There are deep-running power imbalances at all levels. 

  5. Government capacity is lacking, and public trust in data sources and sharing is low.

  6. There’s a lack of coordination locally, regionally, and globally across governments, research institutions, civil society, and private companies.

What is The Data Values Project aiming to achieve? 

These are complex and multifaceted issues. Our goal is to establish where common consensus exists and significant divergences remain in policy positions on data. Where consensus is strong, we believe that common messaging and outreach can provide clarity and encourage actions by governments, businesses, and other data holders to achieve more equitable outcomes. 

Why now? 

The datafication of society and implications for equity and opportunity are among today’s most important issues. Yet there is no unified advocacy for pathways to unlock the opportunities of data, while guarding against the potential harms and putting people at the center. A lack of clarity, regulation, and common agreement on how to protect people’s data rights contributes to rising inequality and insecurity. The challenges posed by Covid-19 to communities, societies and economies make the need for action to unlock the power of data for all more urgent than ever.

What is the timeframe for this project? 

The project kicked off in early 2021, with an open dialogue that draws together key players from the public sector, the private sector, regulatory and legal bodies, international institutions and civil society. Our plan is to launch white papers in 2021 for discussion that will culminate in the launch of a manifesto for action next year, charting a practical path forward on a normative agenda for data access and use. 

Beyond 2022, we will put these recommendations into action to leverage data for a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive world.

What makes The Data Values Project different? 

We are global, spanning countries and sectors. This project is about surfacing diverse perspectives on how people, communities and societies use data, bringing key stakeholder’s voices into dialogue that grounds conceptual analysis in real-world experience. 

We are open and inclusive. Through an open consultation process, we will develop overarching policy positions that have broad support and are anchored in the real experiences of our partners, and then leverage the power of our network to launch a compelling advocacy campaign.

We embrace and accept the messiness and the fault lines. There will be issues where consensus can’t be reached yet. We’ll continue to foster rigorous debate, bring diverse perspectives to the table and surface the important work being done by our partners to build understanding and advance action.

Who is behind the Data Values Project? 

The project is led by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data’s Technical Advisory Group, a unique convening of experts spanning a diversity of sectors and geographies. This group provides sectoral expertise related to open data, statistics, citizen voices, big data, earth observation technologies, remote sensing, and more. The Global Partnership includes a network of nearly 300 partner organizations

An open consultation phase from Spring 2021 through Summer 2022 is looking to engage and mobilize a diverse range of partners and champions across geographies, bringing together research and policy expertise with the practical experiences of people wrestling with the difficult daily trade-offs of developing and implementing data policy. 

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Guidance for guest authors

Thank you for your interest in the Data Values Digest. The Digest highlights issues relevant to the data community to increase engagement on key ethical challenges in development. And we welcome advocates and practitioners who wish to contribute. Please email DataValues@data4sdgs.org with ideas.

Picking a topic

In deciding what to focus on, it’s helpful to consider your own personal expertise and the issues that you feel passionate about that don’t get enough attention. The Digest is always tied to a timely event in the world, usually related to data and global development, but we’ve also highlighted larger issues (i.e. Afghanistan) to draw attention to related data rights and privacy issues for our community to mull over.

As a guest author, your post should reflect your personal views—not those of your organization. Readers want to hear from “insiders” on these issues who are passionate about questions surrounding ethics in data and AI. Our audience spans private and public sectors. We avoid using technical jargon and seek to highlight the views of marginalized groups and digital rights advocates.

The technical details

We aim to keep the Digest under 700 words, but this is a loose requirement primarily stemming from our turnaround time as our team usually writes, edits and sends out the Digest in 3 days. You’re welcome to write a longer post, but aim nonetheless to write directly, succinctly and to-the-point. The tone of the Digest is snappy, casual, but not flippant. We write as experts in data for development, but not as technical experts in all related issues. Our voice is highly personal. The Digest authors use “we” and “I” when presenting personal views or opinions.

Updated March 29, 2022.