IGF 2023 WS #533 Digital self-determination in collective data governance


Data Governance & Trust
Data Localization, Data Residency, and Data Sovereignty
Data Privacy and Protection

Organizer 1: Johnston Samantha-Kaye, The University of Oxford
Organizer 2: Jake Stein, University of Oxford
Organizer 3: George Chalhoub, University of Oxford
Organizer 4: Connie Man Hei Siu, 🔒International Telecommunication Union
Organizer 5: Akierah Binns, University of Guelph

Speaker 1: Johnston Samantha-Kaye, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Jake Stein, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: George Chalhoub, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Johnston Samantha-Kaye, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Akierah Binns, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Connie Man Hei Siu, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How do existing omnibus data governance regulations fail to empower communities when applied in practice? How can coalitions of civil society, academia and government adopt policies to serve the self-determined needs of data subjects?
B. What resources, policies, and regulations are effective in mitigating the asymmetry challenges associated with data governance and building trust?
C. What are the potential opportunities and challenges of integrating the principles of DSD into data governance models to tackle data asymmetries, promote responsible and ethical practices, and how can these challenges and opportunities be effectively addressed?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Policymakers tasked with promoting responsible data governance practices are faced with striking a balance between encouraging data-driven economic and social flourishing and protecting citizens’ privacy and autonomy. Our session challenges this binary. Instead, participants will take away tangible examples of data governance as a deeply context-specific practice. In our cases, participants will see perspectives of how the tools that policy provides meet data subjects’ lived realities. Additionally, they will learn about the complexities of data governance, including concepts of data and agency and information asymmetries. Accordingly, we will provide succinct policy recommendations for supporting regulatory environments that promote individual and collective autonomy, and most importantly DSD. Overall, through interacting with experts, our participants will develop contextual knowledge of different data governance models. They will be equipped with new insights to facilitate the development of more responsible data governance practices that promote transparency, accountability and fairness in the digital world.


Datafication has transformed human life into quantifiable information that can be monetized, signaling the need for responsible data governance (Van Dijck 2014; Vuleta, 2021). This widespread collection and utilisation of data have led to the emergence of data asymmetries: data ownership imbalances across individuals, organizations, and sectors. This imbalance in data availability and utilisation leads to disparities in decision-making power, economic opportunity and societal influence. Verhulst (2023) highlights three types of asymmetries hindering responsible data governance processes: asymmetries in data, information, and agency and emphasizes their effects on vulnerable and marginalized groups. Crucially, these asymmetries have a critical impact as they restrict human potential, disempower users, and reduce public trust in technology. Consequently, our workshop aims to (a) explore common approaches in addressing asymmetries across various domains and (b) propose an alternative model of data governance grounded in digital self-determination (DSD) principles to tackle these asymmetries.

To achieve our aims, we will identify common resources and controls that tackle challenges associated with responsible data governance and trust such as the EU’s DMA and DSA, South Africa’s POIPA, and California’s CPRA. We will examine how these approaches address data asymmetries in two case studies: young people in the education sector and the gig-worker economy. We will then present a DSD taxonomy for responsible data governance and trust, which although still nascent, augments foundational concepts of self-determination to incorporate adaptations necessary for the digital era. We aim to develop a more responsible and ethical understanding of data governance, which is crucial for ensuring fairness, accountability, and empowering individuals and communities. Overall, we seek to initiate conversations on the broader goal of unravelling the complexities of asymmetries in data governance and the role of DSD in determining who governs the data—individuals, communities, or a collective "we."

Expected Outcomes

1. Enhanced understanding of asymmetries: Workshop participants will gain a deeper understanding of the concepts of data, agency and information asymmetries and their implications on data governance and, consequently, decision-making authority and societal influence.
2. Creation of a DSD taxonomy: The workshop will contribute to the development of a DSD taxonomy for responsible data governance and trust. This taxonomy will serve as a framework to understand and analyze the complexities of data governance, incorporating asymmetries and contemporary considerations and adaptations necessary for the digital era, including the collective dimension of DSD.
3. Publication of policy recommendations: A publication is planned that will provide policy recommendations and practical guidelines for implementing DSD in data governance models. These recommendations aim to assist policymakers, regulators and organizations in creating frameworks, policies and regulations that effectively tackle data asymmetries and promote inclusivity and fairness in the digital society.

Hybrid Format: Hybrid Format: (1) TWITTER: Each speaker will include easily quotable statements in their presentations and will encourage the audience to share them on Twitter. This will provide the opportunity to engage with the audience after the session ends. It will also help spread our discussions with a larger audience. (2) LOOM: We will create a pre-recorded summary of our presentation, including its key objectives, arguments and questions. This will be available on LOOM, complete with audio and closed captions, as well as other accessibility features. This will provide the audience with a head start in understanding the content and will give them the opportunity to generate their own questions and reactions in advance. (3) TESTIMONIAL.TO - After the session, we will share the session link with the onsite and online audience, allowing them to provide their feedback and thoughts if they were unable to do so during the session.