Virtual UNWDF: (TA5.08) Balancing data use and data protection – Learning from African Experiences

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Published at : 23 Oct 2020
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(TA5.08) Balancing data use and data protection – Learning from African Experiences

Organiser(s): William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Open Institute, Kenya
(SP.1409)

Both the Cape Town Action Plan and Dubai Declarations stress that the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be realized without quality, timely, relevant, open and disaggregated data to ensure that no one is left behind. They recognize the increasing potential for, and experimentation with, government use of insights derived from privately held data. There are increasing calls for line ministries to share administrative data as an important resource for achieving and monitoring progress on the SDGs. And many countries are rolling out digital ID programs. All these advances, and many others, hold potential to help government actors make smarter decisions, design better policies and programs, and to achieve and monitor progress on the SDGs.

However, there is an absence of clear policy and regulatory frameworks in most countries that would govern use of these data such that the upside potential is realized while also protecting personal privacy and national security concerns. This ambiguity, together with genuine complexity in the policy and regulatory matters, leaves room for misuse of data, citizen distrust in how governments use their data, and hesitation among data holders to allow access to their data. If left unattended, these concerns could exacerbate harms to people already “left behind” and ultimately undermine the goals of the World Data Forum – that governments use data to achieve the SDGs by improving policies, programs and outcomes for people. These tensions are especially acute in the context of COVID-19 response; the pandemic has accelerated national and global debates about data use by governments and data rights of citizens.

This session will offer balanced exchanges about how to optimize both use and protection in a comprehensive policy and regulatory framework and explore what balanced data governance looks like from a variety of perspectives – of the official statistics community, open data and data for development champions, human rights advocates, national data protection authorities, and international partners. This session will showcase experiences from Ghana, Kenya and Mauritius as well explore the role that Africa-wide entities such as the UN Economic Commission for Africa can play in both supporting data innovation and data protection across the continent. The discussion will reveal that each of these perspectives has interests for both data use and data protection and will offer practical approaches to strike the balance between them.
VirtualUNWDF:(TA5.08)

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