HANDBOOK

Digital Public Goods: Guidance for Development, Governance, and Stewardship

#democracy #justice #policy

As digital public goods (DPGs) become more common we must recognize the ethical considerations of how and by whom these systems are built. We’ve released guidance in the form of an ethics playbook.

Across the world, emerging economies are beginning to build core digital infrastructure such as ID and financial transaction systems. Instead of outsourcing the design of these systems to private companies based overseas, governments in emerging economies are increasingly seeking to build these systems themselves, by using openly available digital tools built by philanthropic and international organizations – digital public goods (DPGs)

As DPGs become ever more widespread, it is vital to explore ethical considerations about how and by whom these systems are built. We have drafted best practices for organizations involved in designing and deploying DPGs, whether they are technology designers, development agencies, national governments, or philanthropic funders.

In the form of an ethics playbook, our new white paper “Digital Public Goods: An Overview of Guidance for Development, Governance, and Stewardship,” offers guidelines for organizations involved in creating and employing DPGs.

This paper was created as a part of the Rapid Response Impact Initiative at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Harvard Ethics and in partnership with the Omidyar Network, Brown University School of Public Health, and New America.

Key Points

  • Impact Initiatives are the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics’ model for intensive research responses to high priority issues facing practitioners.
  • We must recognize and account for the ethical considerations of how and by whom DPGs are built. These new resources offer guidance on design, governance, and accountability for organizations involved in creating and employing DPGs.
  • This project on Digital Public Goods (DPGs) is supported by the Omidyar Network.
  • Inquiries to the authors can be directed to Josh Simons: joshua_simons@g.harvard.edu

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