Personal Data Protection Initiative
Data collection and information dissemination in the developing world is growing dramatically.This is due, in part, to the ever-increasing use of mobile technology and other end-to-end electronic systems to collect and transmit data. The growing scale and influence of this type of technology is seen predominantly in developing countries in Africa, the Americas, India and South Asia.
The data collected using this type of technology can be used for a variety of purposes.For example, it can be used to assess needs and to assign aids accordingly, or to gather data about commodity products (e.g. coffee) for trading in a global market.Similarly, other initiatives such as micro-loans (a.k.a. micro-credit), mobile health (mHealth) also involve collecting, processing, transmitting and storing sensitive data about individuals.
Although mobile and other electronic technologies are an important resource that provides a smooth and fairly easy process to achieve a common good, there is an inherent risk of privacy abuse.Due to several points of access to the data by technology vendors (ISPs, Telcos, etc.), the data gathered is not under a users’ direct local control and hence users of such technology are becoming progressively more sensitized to both perceived and real risks to their privacy associated with their use of such electronic systems.Therefore, enforcing appropriate privacy-related efforts becomes necessary to address real risks and to instill confidence in the use of the technology itself.
Increasingly, many NGOs and ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) projects are evolving into data management businesses and hence, they need to implement security and data protection processes and policies.Many organizations are aware of the issue, but they are prevented from addressing it because of a lack of: a) guiding principles and b) available resources to enable them to implement privacy-related efforts. Admittedly, the goal of protecting personalized data has been well articulated and encouraged by various governmental bodies and organizations.However, an understanding of how to realize on this goal needs to be achieved at an institutional level.
This Personal Data Protection Initiative will endeavor to provide assistance to ICT4D projects around the world.Whether the data is gathered via mobile phones or other forms of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), certain rules and policies need to be applied to protect users’ privacy.It is our hope that our research on guiding principles will be shared with the engaged NGOs and their fellow organizations.
If you are interested in social or legal aspects of technology, join us to contribute in the discussions and creating guidelines and policies which will help hundreds of NGOs and ICT4D projects around the world.
If you are working with a NGO which is involved in collecting any form of personal data, let us know about your project and it needs to manage user data. We will form a group to work with you on your case to explore the best policies and practices to ensure necessary practices are in place to protect the data.