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Project

Rethinking data and rebalancing digital power

What is a more ambitious vision for data use and regulation that can deliver a positive shift in the digital ecosystem towards people and society?

Valentina Pavel

17 November 2022

Project lead
Valentina Pavel

The Ada Lovelace Institute recognised an urgent need for a comprehensive and transformative vision for data that can serve as a ‘North Star’: directing our collective efforts and encouraging us to think bigger and move further away from the current digital landscape, which is characterised by:

  • Exploitative data practices that fail to capture the potential social value of data, and fail to protect individual rights and serve communities.
  • Short-sighted political and institutional visions for the role of data.
  • A lack of agency over how data is generated and used, with stark power imbalances between people, corporations and states.1

Our report, Rethinking data and rebalancing digital power, proposes four cross-cutting interventions across infrastructure, governance, institutions and public participation that can enable a richer set of possibilities for the digital ecosystem, re-centre people and society and contest the increasingly entrenched systems of digital power.

Rethinking data and rebalancing digital power

Project background

Our work started out by asking: What is a more ambitious vision for data use and regulation that can deliver a positive shift in the digital ecosystem towards people and society?

This drove the establishment of an expert working group, bringing together leading thinkers in privacy and data protection, public policy, law and economics from the technology sector, policy, academia and civil society across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Hong Kong.

This disciplinarily diverse group brought their perspectives and expertise to understand the current data ecosystem and make sense of the complexity that characterises data governance in the UK, across Europe and internationally. Their reflection on the challenges informed a holistic approach to the changes needed.

Using discussions, debates, commissioned pieces, futures-thinking workshops, speculative scenario building and horizon scanning, the group identified the most promising propositions for transformative change in the long-term.

Through discussion of each intervention, the report brings an initial set of provocative ideas and concepts, to inspire a thoughtful debate about the transformative change. These proposals can help us think about potential ways forward, open up questions for debate instead of rushing to provide answers, and offer a starting point from which more fully fledged solutions for change are able to grow.

We’re now calling on policymakers, researchers, civil society organisations, funders and ethical industry innovators to engage with and iterate on these proposals, as a part of a collective effort towards lasting change.

Rethinking data working group

The Rethinking data working group, co-chaired by Professor Diane Coyle (Bennett Institute of Public Policy, Cambridge) and Paul Nemitz (Director, Principal Adviser on Justice Policy, EU Commission, and Member of the German Data Ethics Commission) will guide the Ada Lovelace Institute’s thinking on the future of data regulation.

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Rethinking data blog series

Footnotes

  1. See more in our 2020 Rethinking data prospectus. Available https://www.adalovelaceinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Rethinking-Data-Prospectus-Ada-Lovelace-Institute-January-2019.pdf

Related content

Rethinking data working group

The Rethinking data working group was established to guide the Ada Lovelace Institute’s thinking on the future of data governance and regulation