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Report Data for the public good

Exploring legal mechanisms for data stewardship

A joint publication with the AI Council, which explores three legal mechanisms that could help facilitate responsible data stewardship

4 March 2021

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Organisations, governments and citizen-driven initiatives around the world aspire to use data to tackle major societal and economic problems, such as combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Realising the potential of data for social good is not an easy task, and from the outset efforts must be made to develop methods for the responsible management of data on behalf of individuals and groups.

The challenges of the twenty-first century demand new data governance models for collectives, governments and organisations that allow data to be shared for individual and public benefit in a responsible way, while managing the harms that may emerge.

Produced by a working group of legal, technical and policy experts, this report describes three legal mechanisms which could help collectives, organisations and governments create flexible governance responses that can respond to different elements of today’s data governance challenge, for example by empowering data subjects to more easily control decisions made about their data by setting clear boundaries on data use, assisting in promoting desirable uses, increasing confidence among organisations to share data or injecting a new democratic element into data policy.

The three legal mechanisms discussed in the report are data trusts, data cooperatives and corporate and contractual models, which can all be powerful mechanisms in the data-governance toolbox.

Exploring legal mechanisms for data stewardship

The text of the paper is split across the various articles linked below. Readers can browse in any order. To download the full report as a PDF, use the button below.

The report is a joint publication with the AI Council and endorsed by the ODI, the City of London Law Society and the Data Trusts Initiative.

Image credit: Jirsak

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