Privacy and Open Data

December 06, 2016 by Alexandra Wood, David O'Brien, Urs Gasser

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Political leaders and civic advocates are increasingly recommending that open access be the “default state” for much of the information held by government agencies. Over the past several years, they have driven the launch of open data initiatives across hundreds of national, state, and local governments. These initiatives are founded on a presumption of openness for government data and have led to the public release of large quantities data through a variety of channels. At the same time, much of the data that have been released, or are being considered for release, pertain to the behavior and characteristics of individual citizens, highlighting tensions between open data and privacy. This research briefing offers a snapshot of recent developments in the open data and privacy landscape, outlines an action map of various governance approaches to protecting privacy when releasing open data, and identifies key opportunities for decision-makers seeking to respond to challenges in this space.