The advent of a digital society is fundamentally transforming our social and economic relationships. The nature of the dominant model of digital society means that global digital corporations – based in the US, and some in China – are dictating the terms and shaping the global socio-economic architecture for the new digital era, with very little direction being provided by public policy.
Data is the key resource in this digital economy. The control and ownership of data almost entirely by a few global digital corporations is resulting in deep structural changes and exclusions in our economy and society.
Our collective future, therefore, depends on whether we can ensure broad sharing of digital data with due individual and group protection. For the latter, we need to establish collective primary economic rights to data. Access to community data currently held by private actors is the fundamental pre-requisite for the very act of public policy-making and ensuring a fair economy. For the public sector, this entails an imperative to change: it must be able to collect and curate data, convert it into digital intelligence and provide intelligent public services. While skills development and upgrading are needed, the more decisive challenge is one of visioning, exercising political will and managing a transition to use data for the common good.
This is the crux of the report titled, 'Economic rights in a data-based society', authored by IT for Change's Executive Director, Parminder Jeet Singh, and produced in collaboration with Public Services International (PSI), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).