Mozilla’s Data Futures Lab is funding three projects that bring better data stewardship to the realms of activism, labor, and consumer rights

Today, what happens online — and offline — is powered by data. What article appears in your newsfeed, or how much an Uber ride costs, is determined by collecting and parsing vast troves of data.

With this data comes power — the power to influence, to know, to create. But data and power aren’t equally distributed. The value that data can provide to individuals and society is largely dictated by a handful of powerful technology companies.

Today, Mozilla is announcing three awards to help rebalance the ownership and control of data — and power. Mozilla’s Data Futures Lab is providing a total of $300,000 to three projects that take novel approaches to data stewardship in the realms of activism, labor, and consumer rights.

The Data Futures Lab, co-founded by Mozilla and Luminate, is a hub for the people and projects making data more equitable, by giving citizens greater control over data about them. The Lab is co-funded by Mozilla, Luminate, and Siegel Family Endowment. The Data Futures Lab uses grantmaking, research, and convenings to fuel alternative models of data stewardship and governance, like data trusts, data co-ops, and data commons. The Lab prototype launched in September 2020, and the Lab will launch in full at MozFest in March 2021.

Says Mehan Jayasuriya, Program Officer at Mozilla: “AI and the data that powers it is increasingly shaping our lives and our society. As a result, we need new, more equitable ways of owning and using data. These three grantees will create working prototypes that model exactly that. And in the long term, these awards will help move us toward a world where individuals have greater ownership, choice, and agency with regard to data about them. ”

We need new, more equitable ways of owning and using data.

Mehan Jayasuriya, Program Officer at Mozilla

The 3 awardees:

SignalBoost | U.S.

Signalboost is a messaging application that provides encrypted broadcasts and hotlines to activists, organizers, and other vulnerable populations. It doesn’t rely on SMS, which is vulnerable to surveillance, and doesn’t require users to expose their phone number. With this award, Signalboost will scale and improve their app; build an open source library that allows others to build on top of the Signal protocol; work on usability and community building; and publish research on security and data stewardship.

Platform Info Exchange | UK

Platform Info Exchange is a nonprofit trade union for drivers whose livelihoods depend on app-based services like Uber. The organization helps gig workers access, analyze, and act on insights from their personal data collected and processed at work. With this award, Platform Info Exchange will recruit gig workers to join a class action, mass subject access request under Articles 15 & 22 of the GDPR in Europe — and, as a result, pave the way for a worker-led data trust.

Consumer Reports | U.S.

Consumer Reports is a well-known advocate for transparency and truth in the consumer marketplace that leverages its research, product development, and advocacy to advance the digital rights of consumers. This award will help Consumer Reports develop a tool inspired by the California Consumer Privacy Act to help local consumers easily see what data companies hold about them.

Learn more about these projects at MozFest starting March 8. Join us for demos from the project teams, discussions with data stewardship experts, and opportunities to workshop your own data stewardship ideas with leaders in the field.