November 2015 – Responsible Use of Open Data in Government and the Private Sector

 Open Data Towards Responsible Uses Symposium Logo4small

November 19 & 20
NYU School of Law
40 Washington Square South
Vandirbilt Hall
New York, NY 10012

Thursday, November 19
Keynote at 4:30 PM
Room 214

Friday, November 20
Registration at 9:00 AM
Greenberg Lounge

The conference, Responsible Use of Open Data: Government and the Private Sector, was held at New York University on November 19-20, 2015, and was co-organized by BCLT and NYU’s Information Law Institute and Department of Media, Culture and Communication. The event continued and expanded the issues addressed by the April 2015 BCLT event Open Data: Addressing Privacy, Security, and Civil Rights Challenges Symposium. We are delighted that Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki, the City of New York Chief Analytics Officer and in charge of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics agreed to open the conference in the afternoon of November 19th.

This event was inspired by two central themes. The first was a set of normative challenges associated with the open data movement, including e.g. privacy and other civil liberties, equitable access to data, and what counts as public interest. In 2014, Microsoft funded six academic research projects focusing on these challenges toward an idea of “responsible open data.”  In the morning of November 20, the conference highlighted four of these projects. Early reports of this work were presented earlier this year in Berkeley, when BCLT hosted the Open Data: Addressing Privacy, Security, and Civil Rights Challenges Symposium on the privacy, security, and civil rights challenges involved in the open data movement.

The afternoon of November 20 was devoted to the second theme, broadening the scope of discussion to include private/commercial holders of data. An exhaustive literature review undertaken by the Berkeley team revealed that although the open data movement has focused almost exclusively on government datasets, the supporting normative arguments extend beyond government to private/commercial actors who hold vast data stores with the potential for great public good.

To tease out these arguments the conference brought to the table three key groups: 1) those who collect and hold data in the private/commercial sector, e.g., health insurance companies, telecommunications providers, online information service platforms, and financial organizations; 2) those who need data to serve public good; and 3) those who intermediate these two either by providing technical platforms for sharing and use, or by developing governance mechanisms to facilitate it. Although the range of those who have data and those who need it extends across a wide and diverse domain, the conference selected urban science (“smart cities”) and health data as areas of special interest.

This event was made possible by a generous gift from Microsoft.