The Need for New Methods to Establish the Social License for Data Reuse

Stefaan G. Verhulst & Sampriti Saxena at Data & Policy: “Data has rapidly emerged as an invaluable asset in societies and economies, leading to growing demands for innovative and transformative data practices. One such practice that has received considerable attention is data reuse. Data reuse is at the forefront of an emerging “third wave of open data” (Verhulst et al., 2020). Data reuse takes place when data collected for one purpose is used subsequently for an alternative purpose, typically with the justification that such secondary use has potential positive social impact (Choo et al., 2021). Since data is considered a non-rivalrous good, it can be used an infinite number of times, each use potentially bringing new insights and solutions to public problems (OECD, 2021). Data reuse can also lead to lower project costs and more sustainable outcomes for a variety of data-enabled initiatives across sectors.

A social license, or social license to operate, captures multiple stakeholders’ acceptance of standard practices and procedures (Kenton, 2021). Stakeholders, in this context, could refer to both the public and private sector, civil society, and perhaps most importantly, the public at large. Although the term originated in the context of extractive industries, it is now applied to a much broader range of businesses including technologies like artificial intelligence (Candelon et al., 2022). As data becomes more commonly compared to exploitative practices like mining, it is only apt that we apply the concept of social licenses to the data ecosystem as well (Aitken et al., 2020).

Before exploring how to achieve social licenses for data reuse, it is important to understand the many factors that affect social licenses….(More)”.