IGF 2018 WS #335
Data in Trust, We Trust


Organizer 1: Thom Townsend, UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Organizer 2: Sarah Gates, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Speaker 1: Sarah Gates, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Sean McDonald, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Genevieve Maitland Hudson, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Sean McDonald

Online Moderator

Thom Townsend


Gen Maitland-Hudson


Round Table - 90 Min


We will ensure the session has a balance between practical interventions from those who are setting up these kind or new data sharing models and contributors from the government policy space who can bring a broader policy and regulatory perspective.


We will ensure gender, geography, stakeholder group, youth, persons with disabilities, and policy perspectives by using the UK Government's convening power to attract a broad range of speakers. Once the session is confirmed we will ensure this takes place such that aligns with existing UK Government policy on appropriate diversity in public events.

If 2018 has shown us anything, it's the public importance of decisions we make based on privately owned platforms and data. We have also seen the tremendous ways in which shared data ecosystems can work in the public interest - from improving public services to augmenting research to engaging citizens. Data is a generative asset - the same information can be used for mutually beneficial, non-competitive uses. But the way that we build organizations isn't designed for inter-organizational data sharing and governance.

One route to achieving this are Data Trusts, the creation of which has been recommended in recent reviews of the emerging Artificial Intelligence sector by both the UK and French Governments. One type of data trust is a Civic Data Trust which are the digital equivalent of land trusts - they appoint a council of trustees that oversee data sharing agreements to maximize the value, public benefit, and user rights of public interest data. Civic Data Trusts are being developed to ensure public oversight of everything from the Silicon Valley school systems to the United Kingdom's artificial intelligence investments to landmark medical research. In each case, governments, civil society, industry, researchers, and data subjects will collaborate to decide how to use data to maximize public benefit. And, in each case, this the beginning of millions of dollars in shared investment in inclusive governance for a better digital future.

This panel will feature a mix of Civic Data Trust practitioners - toward explaining the process that brought them to using this approach, the benefits and challenges that they've seen so far, and what their priorities and predictions are for the future.

There will be a strong focus on practical outcomes rather than conceptual debate. In the 90 minutes allowed for this session, the first 30 minutes will be taken short statements from 3-4 experts in the field. We will then poll the group quickly to decide which topic areas the remaining hour should be spent on and dedicate all of this time to a free flowing discussion of the topic.

Exploiting fully new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence demands that we share more, higher quality data to train these new models. Accessing data in an equitable, safe and ethical way though is a tough challenge. Thinking about new models for data sharing that enhance people's trust that this is being done responsibly is essential if we are to realise the power and potential of new technologies for doing good. Data trusts are one new model of thinking about governance to deliver this aim.

Online Participation

The session will be live streamed with the moderator ensuring at least 50% of the interventions come from the online space. We will extend our call for participation to a much wider audience and use the UK Government's communications channels to publicise the event ahead of time ensuring maximum reach.
Prior the event itself we'll run two online seminars to introduce the topic to new audiences ensuring that participation in the IGF event doesn't assume long term prior knowledge in this area. For those people unable to attend the event virtually (particularly those in more distant time zones) we'll ensure the webinar sessions prior to the event generate questions and interventions that can then be deployed by the moderator (online and offline) for those that can't attend online in person.