Canada is the first country to provide census data on transgender and non-binary people


StatsCan: “Prior to the 2021 Census, some individuals indicated that they were not able to see themselves in the two responses of male or female on the existing sex question in the census.

Following extensive consultation and countrywide engagement with the Canadian population, the census evolved—as it has for more than a century—to reflect societal changes, adding new content on gender in 2021.

Beginning in 2021, the precision of “at birth” was added to the sex question on the census questionnaire, and a new question on gender was included. As a result, the historical continuity of information on sex was maintained while allowing all cisgender, transgender and non-binary individuals to report their gender. This addressed an important information gap on gender diversity (see Filling the gaps: Information on gender in the 2021 Census and 2021 Census: Sex at birth and gender—the whole picture).

For many people, their gender corresponds to their sex at birth (cisgender men and cisgender women). For some, these do not align (transgender men and transgender women) or their gender is not exclusively “man” or “woman” (non-binary people).

The strength of the census is to provide reliable data for local communities throughout the country and for smaller populations such as the transgender and non-binary populations. Statistics Canada always protects privacy and confidentiality of respondents when disseminating detailed data.

These modifications reflect today’s reality in terms of the evolving acceptance and understanding of gender and sexual diversity and an emerging social and legislative recognition of transgender, non-binary and LGBTQ2+ people in general, that is, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit, or who use other terms related to gender or sexual diversity. In 2017, the Canadian government amended the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code to protect individuals from discrimination and hate crimes based on gender identity and expression.

These data can be used by public decision makers, employers, and providers of health care, education, justice, and other services to better meet the needs of all men and women—including transgender men and women—and non-binary people in their communities….(More)”.

A Consumer Price Index for the 21st Century


Press Release by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) should undertake a new strategy to modernize the Consumer Price Index by accelerating its use of new data sources and developing price indexes based on different income levels, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The Consumer Price Index is the most widely used measure of inflation in the U.S. It is used to determine cost-of-living allowances and, importantly, influences monetary policy, among many other private- and public-sector applications. The new report, Modernizing the Consumer Price Index for the 21st Century, says the index has traditionally relied on field-generated data, such as prices observed in person at grocery stores or major retailers. These data have become more challenging and expensive to collect, and the availability of vast digital sources of consumer price data presents an opportunity. BLS has begun tapping into these data and has said its objective is to switch a significant portion of its measurement to nontraditional and digital data sources by 2024.

“The enormous economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic presents a perfect case study for the need to rapidly employ new data sources for the Consumer Price Index,” said Daniel E. Sichel, professor of economics at Wellesley College, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “Modernizing the Consumer Price Index can help our measurement of household costs and inflation be more accurate, timelier, and ultimately more useful for policymakers responding to rapidly changing economic conditions.”..
The report says BLS should embark on a strategy of accelerating and enhancing the use of scanner, web-scraped, and digital data directly from retailers in compiling the Consumer Price Index. Scanner data — recorded at the point of sale or by consumers in their homes — can expand the variety of products represented in the Consumer Price Index, and better detect shifts in buying patterns. Web-scraped data can more nimbly track the prices of online goods, and goods where one company dominates the market. Permanently automating web-scraping of price data should be a high priority for the Consumer Price Index program, especially for food, electronics, and apparel, the report says.

Embracing these alternative data sources now will ensure that the accuracy and timeliness of the Consumer Price Index will not be compromised in the future, the report adds. Moreover, accelerating this process will give BLS time to carefully assess new data sources and methodologies before taking the decision to incorporate them in the official index….(More)”

European Health Union: A European Health Data Space for people and science


Press Release: “Today, the European Commission launched the European Health Data Space (EHDS), one of the central building blocks of a strong European Health Union. The EHDS will help the EU to achieve a quantum leap forward in the way healthcare is provided to people across Europe. It will empower people to control and utilise their health data in their home country or in other Member States. It fosters a genuine single market for digital health services and products. And it offers a consistent, trustworthy and efficient framework to use health data for research, innovation, policy-making and regulatory activities, while ensuring full compliance with the EU’s high data protection standards…

Putting people in control of their own health data, in their country and cross-border

  • Thanks to the EHDS, people will have immediate, and easy access to the data in electronic form, free of charge. They can easily share these data with other health professionals in and across Member States to improve health care delivery. Citizens will be in full control of their data and will be able to add information, rectify wrong data, restrict access to others and obtain information on how their data are used and for which purpose.
  • Member States will ensure that patient summaries, ePrescriptions, images and image reports, laboratory results, discharge reports are issued and accepted in a common European format.
  • Interoperability and security will become mandatory requirements. Manufacturers of electronic health record systems will need to certify compliance with these standards.
  • To ensure that citizens’ rights are safeguarded, all Member States have to appoint digital health authorities. These authorities will participate in the cross-border digital infrastructure (MyHealth@EU) that will support patients to share their data across borders.

Improving the use of health data for research, innovation and policymaking

  • The EHDS creates a strong legal framework for the use of health data for research, innovation, public health, policy-making and regulatory purposes. Under strict conditions, researchers, innovators, public institutions or industry will have access to large amounts of high-quality health data, crucial to develop life-saving treatments, vaccines or medical devices and ensuring better access to healthcare and more resilient health systems.  
  • The access to such data by researchers, companies or institutions will require a permit from a health data access body, to be set up in all Member States. Access will only be granted if the requested data is used for specific purposesin closed, secure environments and without revealing the identity of the individual. It is also strictly prohibited to use the data for decisions, which are detrimental to citizens such as designing harmful products or services or increasing an insurance premium.
  • The health data access bodies will be connected to the new decentralised EU-infrastructure for secondary use (HealthData@EU) which will be set up to support cross-border projects…(More)”

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) launches pilot phase of two social media platforms


Press Release: “The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) launches today the public pilot phase of two social media platforms: EU Voice and EU Video.

EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies (EUIs) participating in the pilot phase of these platforms will be able to interact with the public by sharing short texts, images and videos on EU Voice; and by sharing, uploading, commenting videos and podcasts on EU Video.

The two platforms are part of decentralised, free and open-source social media networks that connect users in a privacy-oriented environment, based on Mastodon and PeerTube software. By launching the pilot phase of EU Voice and EU Video, the EDPS aims to contribute to the European Union’s strategy for data and digital sovereignty to foster Europe’s independence in the digital world.

Wojciech Wiewiórowski, EDPS, said“With the pilot launch of EU Voice and EU Video, we aim to offer alternative social media platforms that prioritise individuals and their rights to privacy and data protection. In concrete terms this means, for example, that EU Voice and EU Video do not rely on transfers of personal data to countries outside the European Union and the European Economic Area; there are no advertisements on the platforms; and there is no profiling of individuals that may use the platforms. These measures, amongst others, give individuals the choice on and control over how their personal data is used.”

The EDPS and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Informatics (DIGIT) have collaborated closely throughout the development of EU Voice and EU Video. In line with the goals of the Commission’s Open Source Software Strategy 2020 – 2023, DIGIT’s technical assistance to the EDPS proves the importance of inter-institutional cooperation on open source as an enabler of privacy rights and data protection, therefore contributing to the EU’s technological sovereignty.

The launch of the pilot phase of EU Voice and EU Video will help the EDPS to test the platforms in practice by collecting feedback from participating EUIs. The EDPS hopes that this first step will mark a continuity in the use of privacy-compliant social media platforms…(More)”.

Declaration for the Future of the Internet.


Factsheet: “The Internet has been revolutionary. It provides unprecedented opportunities for people around the world to connect and to express themselves, and continues to transform the global economy, enabling economic opportunities for billions of people. Yet it has also created serious policy challenges. Globally, we are witnessing a trend of rising digital authoritarianism where some states act to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights. At the same time, millions of people still face barriers to access and cybersecurity risks and threats undermine the trust and reliability of networks. 

Democratic governments and other partners are rising to the challenge. Today, the United States with 60 partners from around the globe launched the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. Those endorsing the Declaration include Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, the European Commission, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Palau, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

This Declaration represents a political commitment among Declaration partners to advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies. It reclaims the promise of the Internet in the face of the global opportunities and challenges presented by the 21st century. It also reaffirms and recommits its partners to a single global Internet – one that is truly open and fosters competition, privacy, and respect for human rights. The Declaration’s principles include commitments to: 

• Protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people; 

• Promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information; 

• Advance inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy; 

• Promote trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy; and 

• Protect and strengthen the multistakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.

In signing this Declaration, the United States and partners will work together to promote this vision and its principles globally, while respecting each other’s regulatory autonomy within our own jurisdictions and in accordance with our respective domestic laws and international legal obligations….(More)”

Measuring costs and benefits of citizen science


Article by Kathy Tzilivakis: “It’s never been easy to accurately measure the impact of any scientific research, but it’s even harder for citizen science projects, which don’t follow traditional methods. Public involvement places citizen science in a new era of data collection, one that requires a new measurement plan.

As you read this, thousands of ordinary people across Europe are busy tagging, categorizing and counting in the name of science. They may be reporting crop yields, analyzing plastic waste found in nature or monitoring the populations of wildlife. This relatively new method of public participation in scientific enquiry is experiencing a considerable upswing in both quality and scale of projects.

Of course, people have been sharing observations about the natural world for millennia—way before the term “citizen science” appeared on the cover of sociologist Alan Irwin‘s 1995 book “Citizen Science: A Study of People, Expertise, and Sustainable Development. “

Today, citizen science is on the rise with bigger projects that are more ambitious and better networked than ever before. And while collecting seawater samples and photographing wild birds are two well-known examples of citizen science, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Citizen science is evolving thanks to new data collection techniques enabled by the internet, smartphones and social media. Increased connectivity is encouraging a wide range of observations that can be easily recorded and shared. The reams of crowd-sourced data from members of the public are a boon for researchers working on large-scale and geographically diverse projects. Often it would be too difficult and expensive to obtain this data otherwise.

Both sides win because scientists are helped to collect much better data and an enthusiastic public gets to engage with the fascinating world of science.

But success has been difficult to define, let alone to translate into indicators for assessment. Until now.

A group of EU researchers has taken on the challenge of building the first integrated and interactive platform to measure costs and benefits of citizen science….

“The platform will be very complex but able to capture the characteristics and the results of projects, and measure their impact on several domains like society, economy, environment, science and technology and governance,” said Dr. Luigi Ceccaroni, who is coordinating the Measuring Impact of Citizen Science (MICS) project behind the platform. Currently at the testing stage, the platform is slated to go live before the end of this year….(More)”

Mapping of exposed water tanks and swimming pools based on aerial images can help control dengue


Press Release by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo: “Brazilian researchers have developed a computer program that locates swimming pools and rooftop water tanks in aerial photographs with the aid of artificial intelligence to help identify areas vulnerable to infestation by Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue, zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. 

The innovation, which can also be used as a public policy tool for dynamic socio-economic mapping of urban areas, resulted from research and development work by professionals at the University of São Paulo (USP), the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the São Paulo State Department of Health’s Endemic Control Superintendence (SUCEN), as part of a project supported by FAPESP. An article about it is published in the journal PLOS ONE

“Our work initially consisted of creating a model based on aerial images and computer science to detect water tanks and pools, and to use them as a socio-economic indicator,” said Francisco Chiaravalloti Neto, last author of the article. He is a professor in the Epidemiology Department at USP’s School of Public Health (FSP), with a first degree in engineering. 

As the article notes, previous research had already shown that dengue tends to be most prevalent in deprived urban areas, so that prevention of dengue, zika and other diseases transmitted by the mosquito can be made considerably more effective by use of a relatively dynamic socio-economic mapping model, especially given the long interval between population censuses in Brazil (ten years or more). 

“This is one of the first steps in a broader project,” Chiaravalloti Neto said. Among other aims, he and his team plan to detect other elements of the images and quantify real infestation rates in specific areas so as to be able to refine and validate the model. 

“We want to create a flow chart that can be used in different cities to pinpoint at-risk areas without the need for inspectors to call on houses, buildings and other breeding sites, as this is time-consuming and a waste of the taxpayer’s money,” he added…(More)”.

Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Innovation in Digital Assets


Factsheet from The White House: “Digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, have seen explosive growth in recent years, surpassing a $3 trillion market cap last November and up from $14 billion just five years prior. Surveys suggest that around 16 percent of adult Americans – approximately 40 million people – have invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrencies. Over 100 countries are exploring or piloting Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency.

The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security, and climate risk. The United States must maintain technological leadership in this rapidly growing space, supporting innovation while mitigating the risks for consumers, businesses, the broader financial system, and the climate. And, it must play a leading role in international engagement and global governance of digital assets consistent with democratic values and U.S. global competitiveness.

That is why today, President Biden will sign an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation…(More)”

The Data Act


European Commission: “The proposed Regulation on harmonised rules on fair access to and use of data — also known as the Data Act —  was adopted by the Commission on 23 February 2022. The Data Act is a key pillar of the European strategy for data. It will make an important contribution to the digital transformation objective of the Digital Decade.

The new measures complement the Data Governance Regulation proposed in November 2020, the first deliverable of the European strategy for data. While the Data Governance Regulation creates the processes and structures to facilitate data, the Data Act clarifies who can create value from data and under which conditions. 

The Data Act will ensure fairness by setting up rules regarding the use of data generated by Internet of Things (IoT) devices. 

Users of objects or devices generally believe that they should have full rights of the data they generate. However, these rights are often unclear. And, manufacturers do not always design their products in a way that allows users, both professionals and consumers, to take full advantage of the digital data they create when using IoT objects. This leads to a situation where there is no fair distribution of the capacity to build on such important digital data, holding back digitisation and value creation. 

Furthermore, the Data Act aims to ensure consistency between data access rights, which are often developed for specific situations and with varying rules and conditions. While the Data Act is without prejudice to existing data access obligations, any future rules should be consistent with it. Existing rules should be assessed and, if relevant, aligned to the Data Act when their review is due…(More)” (see also: Study to support an Impact Assessment on enhancing the use of data in Europe).

Oversight Board publishes policy advisory opinion on the sharing of private residential information


Press Release by Oversight Board: “Last year, Meta requested a policy advisory opinion from the Board on the sharing of private residential addresses and images, and the contexts in which this information may be published on Facebook and Instagram. Meta considers this to be a difficult question as while access to such information can be relevant to journalism and civic activism, “exposing this information without consent can create a risk to residents’ safety and infringe on an individual’s privacy.”

Meta’s request noted several potential harms linked to releasing personal information, including residential addresses and images. These include “doxing,” (which refers to the release of documents, abbreviated as “dox”) where information which can identify someone is revealed online. Meta noted that doxing can have negative real-world consequences, such as harassment or stalking…

The Board understands that the sharing of private residential addresses and images represents a potentially serious violation of the right to privacy both for people who use Facebook and Instagram, and those who do not.

Once this information is shared, the harms that can result, such as doxing, are difficult to remedy. Harms resulting from doxing disproportionately affect groups such as women, children and LGBTQIA+ people, and can include emotional distress, loss of employment and even physical harm or death.

As the potential for harm is particularly context specific, it is challenging to develop objective and universal indicators that would allow content reviewers to distinguish the sharing of content that would be harmful from shares that would not be. That is why the Board believes that the Privacy Violations policy should be more protective of privacy.

International human rights standards permit necessary and proportionate restrictions on expression to protect people’s right to privacy. As such, the Board favors narrowing the exceptions to the Privacy Violations policy to help Meta better protect the private residential information of people both on and off its platforms.

In exchanges with the Board, Meta stressed that “ensuring that the “publicly available” definition does not exempt content from removal that poses a risk of offline harm” is a “persistent concern.” Public records and other sources of what could be considered “publicly available” information still require resources and effort to be accessed by the general public. On social media, however, such information may be shared and accessed more quickly, and on a much bigger scale, which significantly increases the risk of harm. As such, the Board proposes removing the “publicly available” exception for the sharing of both private residential addresses and images that meet certain criteria….(More)”.