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Governance framework key to trust that enables data-driven policymaking

Former NADRA chair wants license to use data for social good, but also regulate it
Categories Biometrics News  |  ID for All  |  In Depth
Governance framework key to trust that enables data-driven policymaking

The UNDP publication Development Advocate has published a new article by Tariq Malik, former chairman of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), exploring digital governance in Pakistan and beyond. Ostensibly arguing in favor of data-driven policymaking, Malik also ends up advocating for data governance frameworks – something Pakistan currently does not have. 

“Putting in place data-driven tools encourages openness in public policy development,” Malik says in a post on LinkedIn. “Equally important is a data governance framework – as it ensures that the data utilized for decision making is accurate, consistent, and dependable by establishing standards and procedures for data quality.” He makes specific mention of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as laws that successfully “set forth particular guidelines for managing and safeguarding personal information of individuals.” 

In the article, Malik argues that this is crucial for organizations to have confidence in their data-driven insights and operational processes. “Inaccurate data can result in deceptive assessments, poor performance reviews, and inefficient use of resources,” he writes. “While there is an urgency to deploy digital public infrastructures at dizzying speed, we need to be cognizant of the fact that privacy issues and data breaches are becoming the norm. Hence, data security and individual privacy protection becomes critical.” A rush to capitalize on data-based processes that provide bad results could spoil the larger barrel of data-driven policy tools. 

Malik advocates for a “privacy by design” principle in building digital systems. “Protecting sensitive information must be an organization’s top priority if it hopes to uphold trust and adhere to legal requirements. To prevent unwanted access, this can be accomplished by using strong encryption techniques for data, both in transit and at rest.” As well, “access control techniques including multi-factor authentication and role-based access aid in limiting authorized access to data.”

Ultimately, maintaining standards for consent, transparency and trust based in a legal framework has implications beyond the nice question of so-called “digital government.” Solid legal and regulatory foundations codified in a strong data governance framework will ensure accuracy and reliability. This, combined with a commitment to privacy, inclusivity and data security, improves confidence in data-driven insights. And in the end, says Malik, being able to make decisions based on data is essential to addressing some of Pakistan’s biggest socio-economic challenges. Leveraging data for informed decision-making, he writes, “enables policymakers to prioritize interventions effectively, leading to focused approaches in tackling poverty, unemployment, and healthcare access while also promoting inclusive development.” 

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