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Privacy: What Does It Mean for the Social Sector?

"Protecting Data, Finding Advantage"  Image credit: ejh, 2012Information privacy is a challenge for large and small organizations alike. We’re most familiar with it as an external force requiring social-sector businesses to guard constituent privacy or protect business data from external access, just as for any type of business. Complicating that work is the weight and speed of technological and social change, regarding how we define and re-define the uses of data. It’s imperative to keep up with how privacy issues affect us, as driven by tech trends, regulations, and broad attitudes.

On the other side, however, we can also see data privacy as just another of the internal forces to be properly managed for the benefit of the business, both at the level of individual organizations and in targeted collaborative efforts. Is there a competitive advantage to develop with respect to privacy that could distinctly set apart a social enterprise or the sector as a whole?

This month, we’ll explore both of these angles on data privacy and the social sector: the external pressures as well as internal, proactive approaches. We’ll start with the latter in a first-post look at Nyaya Health’s radically open business model. [Say “knee-Eye-uh”]. This organization is operating on the experimental edge of data transparency – not for the sake of experimentation, but rather in an attempt to gain the best data for decision-making and delivering health service to rural poor in Nepal.

[The image? I imagined a sort of “Defender of Things” in this case, a sentry walling off the clouds but still looking for opportunity. Credit: ejh]