Data management for platform-mediated public services: Challenges and best practices

09/16/2019
by   Agnieszka Rychwalska, et al.
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Services mediated by ICT platforms have shaped the landscape of the digital markets and produced immense economic opportunities. Unfortunately, the users of platforms not only surrender the value of their digital traces but also subject themselves to the power and control that data brokers exert for prediction and manipulation. As the platform revolution takes hold in public services, it is critically important to protect the public interest against the risks of mass surveillance and human rights abuses. We propose a set of design constraints that should underlie data systems in public services and which can serve as a guideline or benchmark in the assessment and deployment of platform-mediated services. The principles include, among others, minimizing control points and non-consensual trust relationships, empowering individuals to manage the linkages between their activities and empowering local communities to create their own trust relations. We further propose a set of generic and generative design primitives that fulfil the proposed constraints and exemplify best practices in the deployment of platforms that deliver services in the public interest. For example, blind tokens and attribute-based authorization may prevent the undue linking of data records on individuals. We suggest that policymakers could adopt these design primitives and best practices as standards by which the appropriateness of candidate technology platforms can be measured in the context of their suitability for delivering public services.

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