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This project expands upon a research programme on Data Governance, managed by the Global Partnership on AI (“GPAI”). GPAI’s Data Governance Working Group selected two projects as part of GPAI’s first work plan including “Advancing data justice research and practice”.
Without rights-preserving frameworks for the governance of data, AI’s potential to tackle some of the most intractable problems of our time such as climate change and the global pandemic will be overshadowed by its potential to introduce harms and exacerbate inequalities. It is already evident that the distribution of benefits and harms is uneven between countries and those individuals and communities marginalised within them.
Regulation of data to redress global asymmetries in information flows, social structures and political power; and prevent conscious or unconscious embedding of racial, gender and other biases into AI/ML systems will also be necessary to redress the inequity of opportunity in the production of AI/ML and to mitigate the differential risk for people and communities.
However, global standards of best practices for data governance tend to reflect the priorities of high-income countries with lower income countries left in the role of “standards takers”. Greater consideration needs to be given to unintended consequences that may undermine the efforts of lower income countries to develop their digital economies in order to participate more effectively in the global digital economy.
Rights-based frameworks such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) tend however to focus primarily on data protection and that is generally equated with privacy – specifically privacy with individualised rights and risks and therefore protections. The pandemic has highlighted the need for data also to be regulated in the collective interest or for common good.
The concept of data justice promotes a broader view than data protection. It has been defined as “fairness in the way people are made visible, represented and treated as a result of their production of digital data”. For the purposes of this study, data justice also extends Advancing Data Justice Research and Practice beyond notions of political rights and justice to social and economic rights and regulation that is necessary to
redress inequities and enable people to exercise their rights. There are also issues of intellectual property and ownership that impact on fair trade, competition, and consumer rights. The opening up of data markets or data flows, for example, without enabling the fair and equitable participation of individuals, communities and countries disadvantages Low- and MiddleIncome Countries and globally marginalised groups. Furthermore, not governing the economics of data perpetuates the status quo.