Revisiting Digital Governance
The digital sphere of today is associated with various problems that ultimately threaten our economic systems, democratic processes and cohesion of societies. Revisiting Digital Governance, a working paper first published in the Social Macroeconomics Working Paper Series of the Blavatnik School of Governance, Oxford University, links the comprehensive requirements for consumer protection, data protection and competition and proposes policy solutions to recouple technological progress with economic and social wellbeing.
The authors Dennis Snower, President of the Global Solutions Initiative, Paul Twomey, Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and Maria Farrell, Senior Fellow at the Minderoo Tech and Policy Lab, University of Western Australia, outline their vision for a recoupled digital governance:
- Digital property rights must be strengthened, and users must be in full control of their individual data. Access to and control of common data is redistributed.
- Economic innovation is facilitated and competition in online markets enriched by applying anti-trust regulation.
- No company or institution holds key information on an individual without that person’s knowledge and consent.
- Economic, social or political manipulation will be illegal and auditable.
- Basic human rights will not be undermined by an opaque or pervasive surveillance capitalism.
- Freedom of association and collective bargaining agents will have the skills and the power to negotiate on behalf of users for a more equal use and financial terms with large data holders.
To achieve this vision, the first step is to change approaches to data governance through the implementation of a new classification system for data:
- Official data (O-Data), which is “official data” that requires authentication by third parties for the purpose of conducting legally binding transactions and fulfilling other legal obligations in many jurisdictions.
- Collective Data (C-Data), is “collective data,” which data subjects agree to share within a well-defined group for well-defined collective purposes.
- Private Data (P-Data) may be divided into “first-party data” volunteered by the data subject or generated by the data subject and observable by other parties, and “second-party data” generated by a second party about the data subject or inferred about the data subject from existing data. This is data that does not require authentication by third parties and is not collective.
In the next step, power asymmetries must be addressed on the policy level:
- Digital rights of association for individuals must be provided and secured to counterbalance platform power.
- Effective legal protection must be provided for vulnerable digital users.
- Competition in the online world must be treated the same as that offline, with greater coherence between competition, consumer rights and data protection agencies.
To advance the debate on policy implications, the Global Solutions Initiative together with the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, has initiated a comprehensive discourse that aims at maintaining the benefits of the digital world while recoupling the technological advances with economic and social progress. In the online event series Revisiting Digital Governance, decision-makers from politics, business, research and civil society discuss innovative concepts for pressing issues in the field of digital consumer protection, necessary consumer policies, new legal regulations and education initiatives to strengthen the protection of personal data.