Digital data and infrastructure have created new possibilities for nonprofits to serve their communities, and for individuals and institutions to give to civil society. It has allowed for new ways to use social networks, mobilise more people and serve them better.

But digital data — essentially anything that can be digitized: numbers, stories, text — comes with its own set of challenges, including governance issues, questions about the social contract, and the need to create new institutional capacities.

Hence, even as digital data is proving itself to be increasingly useful as a currency between different stakeholders, these exchanges have created new ties that bind the social sector in ways for which we are not fully prepared ...

Data is an economic resource today and the nature of digital data is creating new power structures across sectors: government, business and civil society. There is a minuscule group of elite people around the globe who are able to retain the basic freedoms of association, expression and privacy on the Internet. The rest of us just don’t have it. We are dependent on the vagaries of digital data.

The global population has neither the institutional structure to make enforceable global policy nor a great deal of interest in doing it. Those who are leading the nations don’t have any interest either. It’s then up to civil society to take the lead.

Read the full article about civil society's role in managing data by Lucy Bernholz at India Development Review.