IGF 2020 WS #222 Building Trust for your Data: Governments and Citizens


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, African Group
Organizer 3: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 4: Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Speaker 1: Lousewies van der Laan, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Karen Melchior, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Aleksander Tarkowski, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

How can we build trust between policy-makers and the public with regards to data protection and handling, particularly by public authorities? What actions can policy-makers, in particular, take to build trust to ensure that we can take advantage of the opportunities that digitalisation and the use of data bring, while also ensuring trust between citizens and governments in that data and rights are protected? Which are the key features of an environment of trust between authorities and citizens, regulatory or otherwise? How can these be encouraged and maintained effectively?

During the spring of 2020, with the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, the use of citizens’ data by governments has been thrown into the spotlight like never before due to the use of personal data, and location data in particular, in tracing the spread of the virus. Governments from across the globe have implemented varying technological tools to trace contact between people and curb the spread of the virus, some very far reaching and some less so. This has sparked new discussions among ordinary citizens, also among those who have previously not been very engaged in the use of their personal data by the government. Who has my information? How is it being used? And do I trust them to use my data sensibly? To ensure that the use of data is effective, this element of trust is essential. Citizens who trust their data to be in good hands are more likely to provide truthful and reliable information, and less likely to try to avoid giving away data. How can policy-makers, in particular, but also others like civil society, work to build up such a data-related trust in society?


GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


While the issue area is described in greater detail in the following section, this workshop will focus on the building of trust between primarily citizens and governments. To create a regulatory environment where data can be used effectively to fulfil all the opportunities that technological development has offered, this trust is essential. Participants will be encouraged to share both their personal experiences as citizens of which factors have influenced whether they trust or mistrust how the government will handle their data, and their professional expertise of working in internet governance. This will allow the discussion to take in a wide range of perspectives from people with different backgrounds and experiences. To guide the discussion and stimulate participants, the session has been split into several parts where discussion and remarks from the speakers are mixed. This both creates a variation in the format and supplies participants with a new injection of information halfway through the discussion. The moderator will ensure that the discussion stays on topic and that no participant takes over the entire conversation. Clear guiding questions and aims will be provided for participants to guide the discussion to stay on topic and not divert. Agenda Key information and welcome, Moderator Louseweis van der Laan – 10 min Speaker Remarks – 10 min Karen Melchior (Denmark), MEP, will share her experiences as an elected politician working in the field of digitalisation on what policy-makers can do to facilitate digital trust between themselves and their citizens. Roundtable discussion – 25 min Speaker 2 Remarks – 10 min Alek Tarkowski (Poland), President of the Board of Centrum Cyfowre, will share his experiences from research, public policy and civil society on how this trust can be facilitated, and what civil society can do to assist. Roundtable discussion – 25 min Conclusion – 10 min The moderator will summarise the key takeaways of the discussion and clearly link the conclusions back to methods of trust-building. The speakers may also make some additional concluding remarks, if time allows.

Expected Outcomes

This workshop will aim to identify key aspects for the creation of trust between citizens and governments regarding personal data. This information will be used in our continued work in the field of digitalisation and human rights globally, and feed into a publication on principles on digitalisation. With the participants at the IGF, this event produces a unique opportunity to gather stakeholders in the field and hear their best practices in this field.

In addition to the agenda structure of the event, outlined in the description section above, participants will be encouraged to share both their personal and professional thoughts and experiences regarding trust. In this way, participants who may not be as experienced within the field can still contribute to the discussion in a very meaningful way as citizens. The short introductions by the speakers will also aim to facilitate discussion among participants, with the mid-discussion break for the second speaker as a way to inject new information and questions into the discussion. We will also ensure that remote participants can participate in the session, using a virtual meeting room and also taking advantage of tools such as Slido to encourage participants to engage with the topic and each other.

Relevance to Internet Governance: In discussing how different parts of societies can work to build an environment of trust regarding the handling of personal data, this discussion feeds into the regulatory environment of the internet. The discussion will cover both regulatory and normative aspects, as well as structures that can assist in creating a situation where citizens feel safe to share some of their data with their governments in a relationship built on mutual trust. Such an environment, when achieved, assists with development and innovation as data can be used in a safe and productive way where data can be used in research and other developments to improve the societies we live in.

Relevance to Theme: Since the topic specifically regards the creation and maintenance of an environment of trust surrounding personal data, it will cover a range of issues relevant to the Data Thematic Track but even more so regarding the thematic track on Trust. The regulations and norms surrounding the handling of the data itself will be front and centre of the discussion, and the impact such trust can have on the use of data in our societies is a key element of the outcomes we aim for.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: As mentioned above, we will use interaction tools such as Slido to encourage remote participants to join in the conversation in an easy way.