Data governance for children

Featured project | Developing a manifesto to protect children’s data security and privacy

Technicians scan beneficiary ID cards

The fluidity of children’s attitudes, preferences and identity, along with the lower capacity of younger children to make informed decisions and have full agency presents unique challenges to children’s data security and privacy.

This raises issues beyond data protection including: the validity of applying concepts such as informed consent to children; the extent to which parents can serve as surrogates for decisions regarding children’s data; and the right to have data erased or forgotten. There is widespread belief that standards of data protection and security concerning children should be set at a higher level.

Data governance concerns the universe of rules and norms under which data use falls. Beyond data management or even data protection, it entails policy, strategies, standards, rights and accountability on the end-to-end cycle of data. However, currently there is no global set of standards on children’s data governance that addresses key concerns related to children’s data.

We are developing a manifesto that will set aspirational benchmarks to guide governments, the private sector and international organizations in developing data governance that take full account of children’s issues and rights. The manifesto aims to propose the world we want and to address ambiguous or sensitive areas where there are no straightforward answers.

To develop this manifesto, a working group of 19 global experts from the private sector, academia, think tanks and others are meeting throughout 2020 to provide analysis, insights, guidance and comments. Working group members will also be writing short commentaries that examine data governance approaches, evidence, gaps and grey or conflicting areas. A wider group will be engaged via convenings throughout the year. A draft version of the manifesto will be shared for public consultation in order to come to a more robust version before the end of 2020.

Working group

We are grateful for the ongoing input of our working group members who are helping to shape the data governance manifesto. Read their biographies here.

Lindsey Barrett
Staff attorney and teaching fellow, Communications and Technology Law Clinic, Georgetown Law

Gabrielle Berman
Senior Advisor, Ethics in Evidence Generation, UNICEF

Lucy Bernholz, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director, Digital Civil Society Lab

Dr. Monica Bulger
Senior Fellow, Future of Privacy Forum

Heather Burns
Independent tech policy and regulation specialist

Jasmina Byrne
Head of Policy, UNICEF’s Office of Global Insight and Policy

Jeff Chester
Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy (CDD)

Cristobal Cobo
Senior Education Specialist, the World Bank

Emma Day
Human rights lawyer, UNICEF and 2019-2020 Affiliate, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Steven Feldstein
Frank and Bethine Church Chair of Public Affairs and associate professor, Boise State University

Dr. Urs Gasser
Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University and Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School

Jay Harman
Policy Lead, 5Rights Foundation

Pedro Alfonso Duarte Hartung
Lawyer and researcher and Child and Consumerism Program's Coordinator, Alana Institute/Brazil

Malavika Jayaram
Inaugural Executive Director, Digital Asia Hub

Sean McDonald
Co-founder, Digital Public and CEO, FrontlineSMS

Linda Raftree
Independent consultant focused on the ethical use of technology and digital data in development, humanitarian, and human rights programs

Nanjira Sambuli
Researcher, policy analyst and advocacy strategist

Caroline Sinders
Machine-learning-design researcher and artist, Convocation Design + Research

Andrew Young
Knowledge Director, The GovLab


Jasmina Byrne, Chief of Policy, Office of Global Insight and Policy, is project lead and focal point. Linda Raftree, Lead Consultant, is the working group coordinator. Please direct any inquiries to her.