February 15, 2020—Today, more people rely on digital platforms and data-driven tools than ever before. Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, insights from data generated by people and by machines have transformed service delivery, spawned new industries, and informed national policymaking. Data’s increasingly pervasive role in economic, social, and political spheres has influenced governments to consider how to best unlock the value of data, while mitigating associated risks.
Unraveling Data’s Gordian Knot: Enablers and Safeguards for Trusted Data Sharing finds that unlocking data for reuse need not be at odds with individual rights—data sharing can uphold data protections and enhance individual agency and trust. The report emphasizes that the ability of data to be a force for positive development is dependent upon how the value and control of data are distributed across the data lifecycle. Getting that distribution right necessitates modalities for the trusted sharing of data.
The Data Lifecycle. Source: The WDR 2021 Draft
The report examines how countries are approaching data governance by drawing on seven country-specific experiences—India, Estonia, Singapore, Mauritius, Chile, Uruguay, and Mexico—and the experiences of governing open banking in the financial sector (drawing extensively from the experiences of the United Kingdom and Australia) and health sector data sharing (drawing from a range of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic).
By profiling emerging practices and interesting features of countries’ current approaches to establishing safeguards and enablers of data sharing, the report distills five pillars that help maximize the value of data as a tool for development outcomes across the digital ecosystem. They are:
- Laws and regulations that clearly define the rights and obligations over data, including the rights of people to determine when and how personal data is collected, shared, and used.
- Robust and resourced institutions capable of enforcing the rules while also offering citizens responsive and effective redress.
- Trusted technical architecture to standardize data sharing within government and regulated institutions while giving individuals more control and transparency into data flows that use their data.
- Capabilities inside and alongside government to analyze and make use of data.
- Active and participatory civil society and informed populace who can keep governments and companies accountable.
When designed and implemented well, these pillars—and the practices and features that help build them—support an ecosystem in which data sharing and data protection become mutually reinforcing. The report seeks to inform stakeholders and policymakers of emerging country practices and experiences, as they tailor practices to meet their specific development objectives.
This publication was made possible by the generous support of the members of the Digital Development Partnership—the World Bank’s program helping developing countries leverage innovation and technology to solve their most pressing challenges. For more information, please visit: https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/digital-development-partnership.