Ranking Digital Rights

The Ranking Digital Rights initiative is important. Take a look.

Like the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Who has your back report" these efforts analyze, report on, and rank the privacy-respecting practices of corporations and online companies.

So, what about civil society?

The Foundation Center's Glasspockets effort tracks voluntary transparency practices of foundations.

But we have no  standards and no accountability for how nonprofits and foundations collect, use, and protect our personal data - whether we are acting as donors, beneficiaries, volunteers, or fee-paying customers. When I interact with a nonprofit I do so as a private person, giving my money and my time (and increasingly my data, such as a phone number, email address, and credit card number) to them to accomplish some public-facing purpose. My trust in that organization is key - to use my money, time and data wisely and in line with their mission.

The Digital Civil Society Lab and Markets For Good Initiative at Stanford is working with several partners to run the digitalIMPACT.io project to help nonprofits and foundations think about these practices. But - we the people - will have to be the ones to set the standards by which we can trust these organizations and hold them accountable.

Raw Data - the podcast

Podcasts are in again. I know you know that.

I was recently asked by the amazing folks at Worldview Stanford, who have included me in some of their regular campus programming, to do an interview for their new podcast. So first I wanted to listen to what they were up to. I missed my bus stop I was so tuned in.

In partnership with the Cyber Initiative at Stanford the Worldview folks have put together a great series (Raw Data) on how digital data are reshaping our lives. The Uploaded episode does a better job of explaining the power of metadata than any news story I've read. I wish I'd heard the episode on "crowd work" before sending Blueprint 2016 to press. The story on bitcoin made the slightly-less-near term changes that digital data and infrastructure may have on global finance accessible, compelling, and real.

I listened to the episode on digital data and voting the day after the Iowa caucuses. I should mention I also binge watched Scandal, seasons 1- whatever. Let me put it this way - Shonda Rhimes' plotline on rigged elections was pretty darn scary in its plausibility, and its got nothing on what Mike Osborne and Leslie Chang (hosts of Raw Data) interrogate in their episode, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Data."

Each episode weaves a story from research. This is not simply a good Malcolm Gladwell article told on the air. The hosts interview scholars from multiple disciplines, visit companies, and speak with policymakers in such a way that you don't realize you've just had your mind blown by researchers in economics, law, engineering and psychology - you're just listening to a really good story. And learning a lot.

What other podcasts are you listening to?

Alternative interpretations

As if maintaining this blog weren't enough, I've jumped on the Medium bandwagon. You can find my stories here, the Lab's posts here, and a publication called The Development Set here.

Here's a piece I wrote about how the discussions about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative might have played out had the announcement been covered accurately by the press.

Follow up your read of that with Tom Watson's piece from The Chronicle of Philanthropy and I think you'll agree that the social economy and all that it portends - as I've been writing about in the Blueprint series since 2010 - has arrived

The digital rights agenda for civil society

As always, talking with smart people makes me smarter. Last week at lunch Henry Timms asked, "What is it, Lucy? What is the digital rights agenda for civil society?" Since it's Henry, I knew I needed a sharp, pithy answer (preferably tweetable).

"Three things matter most, Henry. Consent, privacy, and openness."

Since lunch is over, here's some more on that answer.

The three principles:

1. Consent
(icon from http://sagebase.org/pcc/participant-centered-consent-toolkit/)

2. Privacy

3. Openness.

Here's a 15 minute video about these ideas.

More information on these three principles is on the digitalIMPACT.io website.

And the Stanford Digital Civil Society Lab works to help activists, nonprofits, and foundations work in alignment with these principles and to the connect digital rights and civil society policy and scholarship.

Nonprofits, data, and privacy

How would you react if you had to include your social security number alongside your name and address on charitable donations you made so that the nonprofit could then report that information as part of its public filings?

Let me guess...you'd say no way. That can't be safe. It can't be a good idea either for me to transmit that info or to think the nonprofit could store it or transmit it to the IRS safely.*

Which is why it's a really good thing that a coalition led by the National Council on Nonprofits convinced the IRS to step back from a proposal asking for just that.

This is a big deal and a "tip of the iceberg" moment for nonprofits and foundations and donors - in other words, all of us - to think hard about the massive amounts of digital data that flow through nonprofits.

Nonprofits can't be expected to manage information like that securely.  They're underresourced as it is, every time they turn around someone else is yelling at them about the money they spend on administrative costs and not on mission, and, oh by the way, big companies and the US government can't keep that kind of data safe, you really think a small community organization can?

There are lots of other issues about data security and ethical use out there. I'm hoping this success - on which the sector stood together - will help bring digital governance issues to the forefront. The digitalIMPACT.io site is designed to help address them - check it out here and be in touch if you have resources to share.

*Focusing just on data security issues. Says nothing about those who give anonymously and hope to keep it that way.

Yes! More Philanthropy Forecasting

InsidePhilanthropy has just published its 2016 philanthropy forecast. Check it out

Ever since 2010 when I first published the Blueprint I've been hoping others would set their minds to discussing trends and near-term futures. So glad to see InsidePhilanthropy doing so.

And here are some Development Forecasts (H/T @gquaggiotto) https://www.bond.org.uk/development-predictions-2016

From Philanthropy NW

And some digital rights predictions - critical issues for civil society

Wait, wait, there's more! Here are some civic tech predictions:

Are there other philanthropy, social economy, digital civil society trend reports, forecasts out there? Let m know - I'll link them here.