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Data Philanthropy, International Organizations and Development Policy: Ethical Issues to Consider

Aug 18, 2020

​In an increasingly datafied society, possessing big data means being able to save lives. Big data can tell us not only whether a given policy intervention works or doesn’t work, but also how it can be fixed. As a result, a growing number of international development, humanitarian and public sector organizations have called for private digital data to be shared for the public good. However, legal guidance is needed on various aspects of the data philanthropy practice, especially insofar as privacy risks are concerned.  While guidance concerning privacy-related legal risks has been provided, this paper seeks to highlight the normative risks that should be considered before entering into certain data philanthropy arrangements. It explores possible approaches to mitigate some of those risks, including the use of the United Nations Global Platform governed by the UN Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics, and the Safe Sharing Site proposal.

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