IGF 2019 WS #70 How much is the data? Finding the value of data for growth

Organizer 1: Beatriz Kira, Pathways for Prosperity Commission
Organizer 2: Tebello Qhotsokoane, Pathways for Prosperity Commission
Organizer 3: Toby Phillips, Pathways for Prosperity Commission

Speaker 1: Yasodara Córdova, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Stefan Dercon, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Anita Gurumurthy, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

- What is the value of data? Are there appropriate metrics and tools to assess its values?
- Do all global players benefit from data equally?
- How to make sure all countries and all citizens share in the benefits of data?

Relevance to Theme: Digital goods and services lack a physical existence making it difficult to identify where the transaction took place and the value it created. People in developing countries represent a big share of digital services' user base, which means that a large amount of the data collected and processed by technology companies originate in these countries. However, multinational companies are rarely based in developing countries, which means most of the taxes from their profits are accrued in richer countries.
Developing countries have increasingly discussed and implemented ‘data localisation policies’, in attempts to capture some of the value attached to data produced within its borders. Recent examples of such policies include Russia’s digital sovereignty bill, which requires all internet traffic in the country to be directed through state-controlled routing points (which critics are calling an “Internet Iron Curtain”), India’s draft data privacy bill, which recommends forcing firms to store a copy of all personal data provided by Indian consumers in the country, and Vietnam’s cybersecurity law, which requires internet companies to open representative offices in Vietnam and provide user data to the government when requested. Data localisation policies are a poor pathway for inclusive growth, as forcing companies to store data on local servers will not change where value-added processing takes place, but it will raise the cost of doing cross-border business.
Designing alternative policies to ensure developing countries share in the gains of the data harnessed within their territories requires facing two sets of challenges. First, more research and in-depth debates are required in order to understand the value of data and the role it plays in the global digital economy. Second, it is necessary to develop mechanisms to ensure that the value created through data collected in developing countries will be harnessed by its citizens and translated into public policies for inclusive growth. These are two big challenges for data governance which this workshop aims to address.

Relevance to Internet Governance: In the digital age, marked by technological advancements in transportation, logistics, and information flow, data has been universally acknowledged as a precious asset – often compared to valuables such as oil and gold. Many pressing concerns of the digital age – including taxation, competition policy, and intellectual property law, among others – can only be effective tackled by measuring and understanding the value of data. However, there are no effective metrics or tools to assess the value of the intangible assets that power the digital economy, making it difficult to compare the effects of global policies across different contexts and to implement effective governance measures. This section will tackle this conceptual and methodological challenge, investigating how value is created and which are the policy and regulatory alternatives available for developing countries to capture this value.


Birds of a Feather - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: This workshop will take the format of a birds of feather session and will bring together a diverse group of speakers to discuss the value of data in the digital age and how to make sure developing countries benefit from it. As data is a complex and multidimensional concept, the session will gather experts from very different backgrounds who have been exploring the challenges of the data economy. Moreover, as the challenges of data loom especially large in countries with limited capability, we invited speakers with experience working in developing nations.
Yasodara Cordova is a software developer and industrial designer working for the World Bank with civic tech and is the leader of the project Data for Development, which investigates how to create data markets and governance frameworks that are more beneficial to the needs of local businesses, societal participation, and overall welfare in developing countries. Yasodara will give a technical perspective to the issue at stake and represent an international organisation. Professor Stefan Dercon is the former Chief Economist of the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and one of the academic directors of the Pathways for Prosperity Commission, who will be able to discuss the economics of data and what are the methodological challenges associated with measuring it. Anita Gurumurthy is a founding member and executive director of IT for Change, where she leads research with a focus on governance, democracy, and gender justice. Her work reflects a keen interest in southern frameworks and the political economy of internet governance and data and surveillance and she will be the representative from civil society on the panel.
Speakers will carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda and no slide presentation. The moderator will open the session by introducing the speakers and the relevance of the question addressed by the workshop in 4 minutes. Each speaker will then have 7 minutes to address the questions: 1) What is the value of data?, and 2) How to make sure all countries and all citizens share in the benefits of data? After the first round of contributions from speakers, participants from the audience (both in the room and remote) will be invited to engage and the floor will be open for the first round of comments, which will last 20 minutes. Speakers will then have 5 minutes each for a second round of contributions. The floor will be open for a second round of comments from the audience for 15 minutes and each speak will then provide their final remarks in 5 minutes.
There will be a timekeeper helping the table to know when to move the discussion forward. The moderator will encourage participants to follow the time limits strictly and will make sure that the discussion is dynamic and interactive. Both the onsite and online moderators will committed with ensuring diversity of participation and will attempt to prioritise questions from members of under-represented groups.

Expected Outcomes: With this workshop we want to shed light of the complexities of measuring and assessing the value of data and the importance of building bridges between different expertise when addressing these challenges. We also expect the workshop to be the start of a promising policy and research agenda, fostering the debate about how to ensure developing countries share in the economic benefits of data in the digital age.

Onsite Moderator: 

Toby Phillips, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Tebello Qhotsokoane, Civil Society, African Group


Beatriz Kira, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderators will ask questions to the audience and make sure that the discussion is dynamic and interactive. They will provide equal opportunities for onsite and remote participants to intervene and engage with speakers in a respectful but insightful manner. Both onsite and online moderators will be committed with ensuring diversity of participation, and will attempt to prioritise questions from members of under-represented groups.

Online Participation: 

The official online platform will be used to allow remote participants to watch/listen to the discussions and also to give them the opportunity to ask for the floor remotely, sending questions and contributions which will be brought to the discussion by the online moderator.

Proposed Additional Tools: There will be an official #hashtag associated to the workshop and all participants will be encouraged to use it on social media (Twitter/Facebook/Wechat). The online moderator will keep an eye on remote participants on the IGF online participation platform and also on social media platforms, sharing comments posted with the official hashtag and giving remote participants the opportunity to ask questions during the session.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities