Responsible Data & Digital Security

Responsible Data For Human Rights Funders

By Lindsay Beck, Open Technology Fund. This piece originally appeared on the Responsible Data Forum’s blog.

Funders play a key role in improving responsible data practices. When we talk about responsible data, it’s often assumed those with the responsibility are those implementing advocacy campaigns. But it’s important to keep in mind that in our efforts to build awareness and practices around responsible data, the donor community also plays a key role. The donor community supports responsible data practices at three levels:

  • through support to grantees,
  • through communications with grantees, and
  • through internal procedures and protocols for handling information and developing program officer capacities.

Jan2016Institute Image_BannerFunders help grantees mitigate risk. Funders can provide much needed technical support to grantees, helping them identify gaps and needs that might not be on their radars. They can play an important role in review consent forms, data collection plans, and crowdsourcing ideas. Funders can recommend experts, techniques, templates and resources that grantees may not otherwise be familiar with.

Funders help in disseminating norms for responsible data through their communications with grantees. Funders can also play an important role in supporting the burgeoning responsible data community by ensuring existing and potential grantees understand and address responsible data issues. How much pressure should or could funders apply to potential grantees on their responsible data practices. How can we ensure that all concerned parties understand that responsible data is about more than digital security?

Through their own internal information management, funders are responsible for protecting their grantees’ data by implementing responsible data practices. Data collection, organization and dissemination are important tools for donors, just as they are for their grantees. Data helps ensure informed decision-making about program design, identifying where needs are unmet, and other similar strategic questions. Funders are also collecting, sometimes unknowingly, sensitive information and trends on the political contexts their grantees work within. What challenges do funders face in implementing responsible data practices? What techniques have been successful? How do funders’ responsible data practices help inform their support to grantees?

We’re so pleased to be working with the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) to host a Responsible Data Forum on Human Rights Funders on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 in San Francisco. Participation for this event is limited to IHRFG members. This event will be a space for funders to discuss their responsible data successes, challenges and opportunities. Learn more here.

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