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Data Futures Partnership in New Zealand issues guidelines for organisations to develop social license for data use

Above image: Transparent Data Use dial to be used for displaying the answers (Credit: Data Futures Partnership)

The Data Futures Partnership in New Zealand has released a set of practical Guidelines which public and private organisations can use to develop “social licence” for data use.

The Data Futures Partnership is an independent ministerial advisory group appointed and funded by the Government. Its overarching objective is to “Create a competitive advantage by positioning New Zealand as a high-value, strongly inclusive, high-trust, and high-control data-sharing ecosystem.”

The document states that trust in data use is an important part of social licence. When people trust that their data will be used as they have agreed and accept that enough value will be created, they are likely to be more comfortable with its use.

For New Zealand organisations, whether private companies, government agencies or non-governmental organisations, seeking to use personal data, the Guidelines promote practices that will improve the levels of comfort and trust among those individuals providing data as well as within the wider community. For New Zealanders, the Guidelines are a tool to help them decide on their level of trust and comfort with an organisation’s proposed use of their data.

The Guidelines list eight questions that matter most to New Zealanders, identified through engagement with thousands of New Zealanders to understand how they feel about their data being used and shared in different situations. These questions and answers are meant to help people decide whether there is enough Value, Protection and Choice for them to feel comfortable with the data use.

Value: 1) What are the benefits and who will benefit?, 2) What will my data be used for?, 3) Who will be using my data?

Protection: 4) Is my data secure?, 5) Will my data be anonymous?, 6) Can I see and correct data about me?

Choice: 7) Will I be asked for consent?, 8) Could my data be sold?

The Guidelines include guidance on how to answer those questions in a manner that is best suited to building trust.

The Guidelines propose a “Transparent Data Use dial” for the organisations to display the answers to the eight questions.  Each segment in the diagram the top of the article should be able to be “clicked through” (or opened up, if a paper version is used) to reveal the answers from the organisation for the particular data use being considered.

Where an organisation uses data in only one way or in very similar ways over time, completing the dial once may be sufficient. Organisations using a variety of data sources for varying purposes should complete the dial for each distinct use of data, including new uses.

If presented as an online tool, this form of presentation allows people to choose what they are interested in and drill down as needed to access second and third layers of information.

The Guidelines also provide advice on when organisations may need the additional step of active community engagement. They say that every organisation will need to exercise their own judgement but if the planned data use has certain features, the need to engage should be carefully considered. For instance, if the use will be novel for the community, will have a disproportionate impact on people from small communities or people identifying as disadvantaged or will have an have an impact on vulnerable groups such as minors.

The Data Futures Partnership is working with organisations, in the public and private sectors, to test and revise the guidelines.

Access the document, A Path to Social Licence: Guidelines for Trusted Data Use, here.

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