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Democratic Data: How Data About You Can Affect Others

A new paper ‘Democratic Data: A Relational Theory For Data Governance’ shows us that you can donate your data and this can affect others negatively. Data about you dot now only affect you. Data about you affects others as well.

Data about you can be used to draw conclusions about other people, who due to their race, ethnicity, religion, or language might be subject to heightened scrutiny in e.g. immigration controls. This, the paper states, are ‘disproportionate risksø and suggest that even where data subjects are subject to equal conditions of collection, the benefits and risks from usemay be spread unevenly.

Voluntary data collection may amplify social inequality. More socially advantaged groups may engage in voluntary data collection that benefits them yet results in greater risks of harm for socially disadvantaged groups. E.g. you install Amazon Ring at your door and join your neighbors’ apps, which allows you to receive and post real-time crime and safety alerts. But neighbor is white and another is black which may result in proper help to one or amplify racism towards the other depending on the data quality.

Another example – as Jeni Tennison from in the UK told us at the Mydata2020 conference last week, could be a gang member donating images of his tatoos into a data base that is then used to identity other gang members.

Read the paper