Research on regulations in the U.S., India, Germany, and Kenya, explores alternative data management avenues for protecting and creating value with data, for example in reproductive health, public transportation, COVID-19 contact tracing, among others.
(BERLIN, GERMANY | FEBRUARY 15, 2023) — Today’s data economy is built on systems which do not serve the interest of people and communities, or grant them equal value for their data — but this can be fixed, says new research by Mozilla.
Titled, ‘Is that even legal? A guide for builders experimenting with data governance,’ the publication provides practical case studies of what it means to set up a trustworthy data intermediary for reproductive health data post-Roe v. Wade in the United States; how the EU’s new Data Governance Act can be used to advance data altruism in Germany; how to create a data commons in India to hold electricity suppliers accountable; and how data can be pooled to improve Nairobi’s transportation system.
“Our data economy is built on an extractive logic, serving the interests of those who seize control of people’s data. Our research seeks to galvanize technologists into action to build new products and services that explore more equitable ways of using people’s data,” says J. Bob Alotta, Mozilla’s Vice President of Global Programs.
Our data economy is built on an extractive logic, serving the interests of those who seize control of people’s data. Our research seeks to galvanize technologists into action to build new products and services that explore more equitable ways of using people’s data
J. Bob Alotta, Mozilla’s Vice President of Global Programs
Mozilla research investigates varying approaches to data governance around the world, focusing on four countries: Germany, India, Kenya, and the United States. Each of the four reports provides tech builders with a roadmap of important laws and regulations in their field and lays out concrete opportunities for challenging extractive data practices. Here are some of the case studies implementing new approaches to data management that empower the people it impacts.
- Data intermediation for reproductive health data post-Roe v. Wade | United States
Popular reproductive health apps, such as period tracking apps, are critical health data touch points post-Roe v. Wade. For instance, storing sensitive user data on company servers could expose users to nefarious actors or — after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — prosecution. A data intermediation approach could limit what kind of data is collected, processed and the conditions under which the company could access and use it. And it could prevent the company from selling the data making it hard for malicious actors or governmental actors to access this sensitive information. Read U.S country report
- Data commons for public good, the case of electricity supply data | India
The Electricity Supply Monitoring Initiative (ESMI) in India has an open access data model where ESMI moderates and functions like a data trust between data collection and publicly available data. Data that is going out to the public does not disclose any private information about the participants of the project, and the public can contribute data by opting into the initiative, and can access it via selected platforms such as WatchYourPower.org. The data can also be accessed by innovators, public interest groups, activists, policymakers, and the companies being held accountable, and many have used it to foster public dialogue about India’s electrical supply quality. Read India country report
- Data altruism for COVID-19 contact tracing | Germany
During the COVID-19 pandemic, tracing contacts and managing health data in a privacy-preserving way has proven to be a major challenge. Data altruism, as introduced in the EU’s new Data Governance Act, could have helped in this context by allowing tech builders to gather data through a data altruism organization for public health purposes — for example to identify COVID-19 hot spots — while limiting the use of this data and protecting people’s privacy Read Germany country report
- Data commons for better transportation data | Kenya
The Digital Matatus project collects data on public transport (minivans known as ‘matatus’) routes in Nairobi with the goal of enabling a more open, service-oriented, and efficient transportation system. By providing free data, maps, and applications to the public, the project has redefined how people navigate the transportation system, improved service delivery for the residents, and enabled better government planning. Read Kenya country report
Says Alotta, “We know about the inequities that data-driven products can create. It’s time to build better and differently.”
This is part of Mozilla’s work around data governance, including its grantmaking within the Data Futures Lab, data donation projects for inclusive voice technologies like the Common Voice, and earlier research on the issue.
Press contact: Tracy Kariuki, [email protected]