Building a Pioneering Research and Policy Focused Hub: Why We Invested in the Data Governance Network

Building a Pioneering Research and Policy Focused Hub: Why We Invested in the Data Governance Network

"By bringing together top research institutions of India to study various aspects of data governance, the Data Governance Network is providing rich insights and enabling high-quality dialogue on the societal impact of technology. It is also a pioneering effort in building a research collaborative in India, contributing to fostering a vibrant research community"

In 2022, it is estimated that Indians will use about 109,658,793 million MB of data. That’s up a seemingly incredible 1400% compared to the amount of data used in 2017. That means, on average, each Indian will use over 84 GB through the year, or the equivalent of about 50 movies streamed online. While entertainment might be the most data-intensive activity for most online Indians, it is a cliché to say, technology has pervaded every part of our lives.

So, a key question that emerges to us at Omidyar Network India is what do we do to ensure this ever-growing access to technology also focusses on safe and empowered digital journeys for every Indian? How does India create a data governance framework that actively encourages such practices?

Given the fast-evolving nature of our digital society, one of the big gaps for policymakers is the availability of data-backed evidence and research. This is the genesis of the Data Governance Network (DGN), which today comprises some of the brightest minds in the world of tech and policy -  Artha Global, IT for Change, Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi, Digital Futures Lab, Centre for Internet and Society, and xKRD.

DGN hopes to develop a self-sustaining, multidisciplinary community of professionals that can inform good governance practices and the trajectory of India's digital economy. It aims to achieve this by bringing together institutional and individual experts, convening stakeholders across industry, government, and academia, and fuelling an engine of implementable policy research. Among its research-related activities, DGN hosts research seminars, industry working groups , and roundtables to bridge divergent perspectives and create platforms for new research insights.

It is built on the principles of

  • promoting capacity building by combining the rigour of academia with the real-world grounding of practitioners
  • building a strong evidence base by producing high quality research that serves as a foundation for further analysis and informs public policy
  • non-partisanship by working across the ideological spectrum to create sound data governance frameworks, and
  • sharing research roadmaps to maximise capabilities and to minimise duplication of research.

We believe that no individual actor today has the resources to bring various perspectives in this fast-evolving field together. And this is why we believe that the collective and ‘network’ nature of DGN can help overcome these issues and help to drive the conversations around data and tech policy forward.

As we move towards a data protection legislation, DGN and its body of work will be critical to the continuing impact of technology of our society. And this is why we invested in DGN.