Global Data Governance Mapping Project: Year Two Report

Report by Thomas Struett, Adam Zable, and Susan Ariel Aaronson, Ph.D.: “…The Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub (the Hub) seeks to help policymakers and the public understand how governments around the world govern data. For many governments, governing various types of data has become an essential, albeit challenging, task, because government officials must justify and launch new strategies, structures, policies, and processes. In 2021 researchers at the Hub designed a new evidence-based metric to characterize a comprehensive approach to data governance at both the national and international levels. We hoped that by doing so, we could help create a broader understanding of data governance. 

The OECD defines data governance as principles and policy guidance on how governments can maximize the cross-sectoral benefits of all types of data (personal, non-personal, open, proprietary, public, and private) while protecting the rights of individuals and organizations.3 A comprehensive approach includes strategies, policies, processes, and organizational structure. A comprehensive approach also governs different types of data use and re-use. 

The Hub’s metric includes 6 attributes of data governance (strategies; laws and regulations; structural changes; human rights and ethical guidelines; involving their public; and mechanisms for international cooperation). We then use 26 indicators which provide evidence of comprehensive governance. 

Key Findings 

01. Consistent performance over the two year period The UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and France take the most comprehensive approach to data governance at the national and international levels. This finding is consistent with our first iteration, where these countries were also in the top five (See Chart 1). 

02. Income disparities in data governance Taking our attributes in sum, what the World Bank terms high income nations do more to govern data and in particular do more on the international and responsible attributes. In contrast, lower and middle income countries tend to focus their data governance efforts on structural or regulatory actions to govern data rather than develop strategies or put forward human rights/ethical guidelines (Chart 2 and 3). 

03. Shared evidence of key components of comprehensive data governance Most of our case studies have enacted or created a freedom of information law, an open data portal, a public data protection law, and a public consultation related to data governance or data driven sectors (Chart 4). 

04. Growing importance of digital trade agreements as a form of data governance We noted an increase in the number of nations adhering to a trade agreement with the free flow of data (with exceptions) as the default. 

05. Advice from experts Most nations have created advisory committees to govern data and data driven technologies, but these committees are mainly composed of representatives of business, government, and academia rather than representatives of the broad public. By including such representatives, policymakers may be better able to anticipate and understand data driven issues that could affect public trust.

06. Policymakers are generally not responsive to public concerns regarding data governance Although most countries seek public comment on proposed laws and regulations related to data, we have little evidence that policymakers revise their data governance policies in response to public concerns…(More)”.