With data now considered by some to be the “new oil,” civil society, industry and governments need to begin setting and implementing international foundational standards. There is an urgent need to set the ontology, semantics and definitions; define measurement and metrics; agree on dos and don’ts and the ethics of big data; and establish testing and certification programs to spur innovation and reap the benefits of big data analytics, all while respecting privacy, health, safety and security, as well as sovereignty rights. Complacency is guaranteed to further exacerbate threats on safety and security, fundamental human rights, public institutions and democracy. It could result in engineering, infrastructure and/or public safety failures. If history in the deployment of disruptive technologies is any indication, taking a passive approach will ultimately result in state intervention and in a patchwork of regulations, rules, review and permitting programs, and, worse, unintended harm to people. Given the stakes, it will be important to set standards through open platforms in order to encourage broad participation and transparency in negotiated rulemaking in order to adapt to the cultures of communities of practices engaged in big data analytics and to generate a broad base of support and compliance.

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CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.
  • Michel Girard is a CIGI senior fellow. Michel’s work at CIGI relates to standards for big data and artificial intelligence.