Monday, November 7, 2011

Organizing data governance and many ways to mess it up again

By: Frank Buytendijk, chief marketing officer

A world without government is a pretty horrible prospect. In such a world, everyone would be at war in a struggle to survive. To avoid such an environment, we prefer to hand over some of our natural rights to a government. We give up some of our freedom to receive protection. This is the purpose of government.

John Locke (1632-1704) has argued that creating a state is not a top-down exercise: a society is the result of a social contract between citizens. We pay taxes and therefore receive protection, infrastructure and social benefits.

In our modern days, there is a new aspect to this: we expect data governance. But is this well thought through yet? I published a series of articles on this question.

Whose Data Is It, Anyway? was the first article on data governance in the public sector and commercial enterprise. It presented a bit of a "big brother" doom and gloom scenario, I am afraid. But is it unlikely? I don't know.

In The TomTom Case – Were Police Using or Abusing Data Analytics?, I included a real-life case study, describing how a police force used collected TomTom satnav data in order to plan speed traps. Ethical or not?

The third article Who Owns Your Data? focused on the private sector. Digital data governance isn’t clearly organized. Who owns the location-based data on your smartphone? The phone company? The phone manufacturer? Or do you feel you own the text messages, voicemail, emails and pictures you stored on your phone? And who owns the status updates you put on Facebook, you or Facebook?

In the final article of the series Organizing Data Governance - And Many Ways to Mess it Up Again, I concluded with two topics. First I described how to organize data governance in a less traditional way. Then, I did the opposite and described some ways to mess it up again, to protect our interests until the public and private sectors get it right.