Responsible Data Forum

ResponsibleDataLogoThe Responsible Data Forum is a series of collaborative events, co-organized by Aspiration and the engine room, and convened in the first half of 2014 to develop useful tools and strategies for dealing with the ethical, security and privacy challenges facing data-driven advocacy.

RDF kicked off in Oakland on March 6th. You can read more about outputs on this blogpost.  


We’re organizing additional events and activities in May, and will be updating these pages as their announced.

Responsible Data Forum: Budapest, June 2-3, 2014: Budapest will be our opportunity to build on everything that we’ve learned over the course of the last months and produce concrete tools and strategies for responsible data in advocacy. This will involve prototyping and refining resources and tools, focusing on specific challenges, and doing everything we can to address the needs and challenges surfaced to date. Space for Budapest will be limited.


Descriptions of RDF Oakland are available on the engine room blog, the School of Data, Fabriders, Data Analysts for Social Good.
Background posts on Responsible Data, including a draft conceptual framework, a who’s who of people and orgs working in this area, an on-going mapping of resources, and early efforts to build tools. You an also find the original concept note for the Budapest event here.
Updates: (max 2-3 updates per month)
Discussion and planning:

The Responsible Data Forum is co-organized by Aspiration and the engine room, in collaboration with Amnesty InternationalDataKind, Open Knowledge Foundation, Privacy International and Ushahidi, and with the generous support of the Open Society Foundations.






Information and data are an increasingly important part of advocacy work, and intentionally or not, activists and civil society groups are collecting a lot of it—through surveys, mappings, record keeping and every day communications. And while data and communication tools can strengthen advocacy work, they can also put communities and activists at risk if they are not managed carefully and responsibly. Anecdotes of data mishaps attest to a range of risks: from wasted resources to damaged relationships and credibility, to arrests and violence when vulnerable groups or individuals are inadvertently identified. But little is known about what leads to these harms, or what could have been done to prevent them. Despite some interest in the international support community, abstract discussions about “ethics” and privacy almost never relate broad and conceptual issues to the working realities of advocates, for whom data has become a suddenly accessible and promising tool. For activists and organizations leveraging data towards real life objectives of social justice and political accountability, such discussions can seem academic at best, intrusive and paternalistic at worst.

The Responsible Data Forum is an effort to engage activists and organizations that are actually using data in advocacy towards better understanding and strengthening responsible data practices.The project is built on the premise that using data in advocacy carries with it a responsibility to avoid contributing to the harm of people reflected in that data or who might be affected by its use, and that responsible data practices will also inevitably lead to stronger, more efficient and impactful advocacy.


From March in Oakland, California, to June in Budapest, we’re using events, activities and partnerships to better understand the contextual and practical information that will help to make the Forum a success. We are conducting interviews, convening focused discussions, mapping resources, and gathering small groups for short building sprints. By mapping the decision points at which responsible practice is most relevant to the design and implementation cycles of data-driven advocacy, by better understanding what kinds of tools, strategies and resources are most useful and accessible to advocates, and by testing the limits of building and standardized resources, we’ll providing building blocks for the Forum.

Forum events will be organized according to Aspiration method. All activities will be facilitated and collaborative, and will be structured into learning sessions that aim to map and understand needs and what kinds of solutions can be feasibly created (at the event and beyond), and building sessions that will begin constructing useable resources to support responsible data use in program design and implementation. Facilitation will also focus on developing partnerships and an action plan to carry out further work.


We’re looking for support and input from anyone who believes that they have something to contribute to safer, more effective and more responsible use of data in advocacy. Particularly, we’re keen to bring:

  • activists and advocates that dealing with responsibility issues in national or local advocacy

  • security and privacy thinkers conceptualizing the strategic layers of decision-making about data

  • researchers that work with ethical and privacy protections of collecting data from and about others

  • technology doers that understand the technical implications of ICT tools

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The Responsible Data Forum is part of the engine room’s Responsible Data Program.