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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Indigenous data sovereignty—A new take on an old theme

Tahu Kukutai (2023).
Science, 382.

A new kind of data revolution is unfolding around the world, one that is unlikely to be on the radar of tech giants and the power brokers of Silicon Valley. Indigenous Data Sovereignty (IDSov) is a rallying cry for Indigenous communities seeking to regain control over their information while pushing back against data colonialism and its myriad harms. Led by Indigenous academics, innovators, and knowledge-holders, IDSov networks now exist in the United States, Canada, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, the Pacific, and Scandinavia, along with an international umbrella group, the Global Indigenous Data Alliance (GIDA). Together, these networks advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples over data that derive from them and that pertain to Nation membership, knowledge systems, customs, or territories. This lens on data sovereignty not only exceeds narrow notions of sovereignty as data localization and jurisdictional rights but also upends the assumption that the nation state is the legitimate locus of power. IDSov has thus become an important catalyst for broader conversations about what Indigenous sovereignty means in a digital world and how some measure of self-determination can be achieved under the weight of Big Tech dominance.

Indigenous Peoples are, of course, no strangers to struggles for sovereignty. There are an estimated 476 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide; the actual number is unknown because many governments do not separately identify Indigenous Peoples in their national data collections such as the population census. Colonial legacies of racism; land dispossession; and the suppression of Indigenous cultures, languages, and knowledges have had profound impacts. For example, although Indigenous Peoples make up just 6% of the global population, they account for about 20% of the world’s extreme poor. Despite this, Indigenous Peoples continue to assert their sovereignty and to uphold their responsibilities as protectors and stewards of their lands, waters, and knowledges.

The rest of the article is here.

Here is a brief summary:

This is an article about Indigenous data sovereignty. It discusses the importance of Indigenous communities having control over their own data. This is because data can be used to exploit and harm Indigenous communities. Indigenous data sovereignty is a way for Indigenous communities to protect themselves from this harm. There are a number of principles that guide Indigenous data sovereignty, including collective consent and the importance of upholding cultural protocols. Indigenous data sovereignty is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to be a powerful tool for Indigenous communities.