New research project exploring tensions between open data, data protection and privacy

I’m pleased to announce a new research project exploring the tensions between open data, data protection and privacy. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Institute for Information Law (IVIR) and the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) at the University of Amsterdam. It is funded by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.

I’m involved in the project as an issue expert on open data (through my work as Director of Policy and Research at Open Knowledge), as well as as an Associate Researcher at the Digital Methods Initiative.

Following is a brief overview of the project. Further details will be posted in due course.

Reconciling Fair Information Principles and Open Data policies

Public sector bodies are viewed as key sources of open data. Governments around the world have made opening up data a priority and an integral part of their wider open government agendas. However, there are widespread concerns that releasing government data sets with personal information threatens privacy and related rights and interests.

We propose to examine this tension between open data policy and privacy interests through the Fair Information Principles (FIPs), with special focus on their elaboration in the EU data protection laws. The Fair Information Principles are the common core of most data privacy laws and guidelines around the world, including those in the US.

The project will combine legal analysis by IVIR, a leading research centre in the field of information law at the University of Amsterdam, with empirical research using state-of-the-art digital research methods by the University of Amsterdam Media Studies Department’s Digital Methods Initiative (DMI). The empirical study will highlight which actors (e.g. government, civil society, private sector) are talking about open data and privacy, what issues they are concerned about, and how these issues are being presented. As well as informing our legal analysis, it will contribute towards better understanding the most pressing legal issues in public policy debates in this area.

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