“While online rights are coming into question, it’s worth considering how those will overlap with offline rights and civic engagement.
“The two may initially seem completely separate, but democracy itself depends on information and communication, and a balance of privacy (secret ballot) and transparency. As communication moves almost entirely to networked online technology platforms, the governance questions surrounding data and privacy have far-reaching civic and political implications for how people interact with all aspects of their lives, from commerce and government services to their friends, families, and communities.
“That is why we need a conversation about data protections, empowering users with their own information, and transparency — ultimately, data rights are now civic rights.
“While the US still lacks such data standards, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), scheduled to take effect in May, demonstrates a path toward reliable online privacy balanced with transparency. This combination effectively enables Europeans to know what information is being collected on them and provides a simple process for how to remove that information.
“There’s plenty of documentation on how the GDPR will affect the practices of consumer-oriented companies and journalism. But the social sector also needs to take note. From civil society organization to think tanks, academia, and philanthropy, these rules will have important, unexamined implications and opportunities outside of Europe.”