Responsible data kick-off
Oakland, March 06 2014

Uncategorized / March 6, 2014
The first collaborative kick-off of the Responsible Data community.


The Responsible Data Forum kicked off in Oakland California on March 6th, 2014. Descriptions of the event can be found at The Engine Room blog, the School of Data blog and Fabriders blog.

The Forum is an effort to develop useful tools and strategies for dealing with the ethical, security and privacy challenges facing data-driven advocacy. By bringing together activists, advocates, security thinkers, researchers and technology doers, the Forum seeks to build on the challenges and experiences of actual advocacy, to nurture connections and develop reusable resources. See complete background here.


The event began with an interactive plenary where participants are invited to share perspectives and challenge one another’s assumptions on what “responsible data” means in practice. A set of framing sessions then aimed to offer space to consider data responsibility in sectoral (e.g. human rights, development, transparency, etc.), geographic (national, regional, global), and situational (e.g. humanitarian response, direct action, campaigning, etc) contexts. The afternoon focused on small working sessions where participants could pool knowledge, share practices and principles, map ideas and strategies, and discuss plans and activities moving forward from the event.

Topics and ideas addressed during sessions included:

Sectoral and Programmatic Focus Areas

  • Ethical standards for collecting and sharing data in humanitarian response
  • Policy safeguards for sharing data between public and private institutions
  • Best practices for managing data generated by development programs
  • Methodologies for protecting stakeholders while conducting Human Rights documentation
  • Best practices for coordinating remote work and volunteering for advocacy and evidence generation
  • Guidelines for responible management of user data and engagement for websites and mobile apps
  • Red flags when designing and executing citizen monitoring and reporting platforms

Strategic Perspectives

  • Understanding of how to model data threats in your organizational and other contexts
  • Assessing the value, and the associated risks, inherent in the data use, store and publish
  • Designing and managing the data you use for advocacy to resist attack
  • Map of who is working on relevant responsible data issues today
  • Inventory of relevant resources and readings

Policy Considerations

  • Practical guidelines for privacy policies that work in practice
  • Understanding of what types of data not to collect or share
  • Managing and controlling organizational identity tied to hosted accounts that store strategic data
  • Data retention: Being clear about what data you keep, for how long, and what you do with “the rest”

Operations Best Practices

  • Understanding security and privacy in the cloud-what kind of data belongs there
  • Understanding of encryption basics and the role of encryption in responsible data usage
  • Practical backup models for distributed data
  • Modeling for success and disaster in your data advocacy
  • Checklist for selecting hosting and cloud solutions
  • Methods for anticipating what risks might be involved in using data
  • Processes to give stakeholders a say in how their data is managed and used
  • Strategies to track when your data is being reused and what for.

What is an RDF event?

The Responsible Data Forum event series are small, issue-based convenings to bring together advocates, technologists, to collaboratively develop materials for addressing the unintended consequences of using data in specific sectors. Over the past four years, we have developed a participatory methodology to enable creative development of prototypes and resources at the event itself, making the most of our in-person time. After the event, we share the tools more widely and seek to continue working on them.

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