Indigenous Data Sovereignty in the era of Big Data and Open Data

Maggie Walter, Raymond Lovett, Bobby Maher, Bhiamie Williamson, Jacob Prehn, Gawaian Bodkin‐Andrews, Vanessa Lee



Indigenous Data Sovereignty, in its proclamation of the right of Indigenous peoples to govern the collection, ownership, and application of data, recognises data as a cultural and economic asset. The impact of data are magnified by the emergence of Big Data and the associated impetus to open publicly held data (Open Data). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families and communities, heavily overrepresented in social disadvantage related data will also be overrepresented in the application of these new technologies. But, in a data landscape Indigenous peoples remain largely alienated from the use of data and its utilization within the channels of policy power. Existing data infrastructure, and the emerging Open Data infrastructure, neither recognise Indigenous agency, worldviews nor consider Indigenous data needs. This is demonstrated in the absence of any consideration of Indigenous data issues Open Data discussions and publication. So, while the potential benefits of this data revolution are trumpeted, our marginalised social, cultural and political location suggest we will not share equally in these benefits. This paper discusses the unforeseen (and likely unseen) consequences of the influence Open data and Big Data and discusses how Indigenous Data Sovereignty can mediate risks while providing pathways to collective benefits.


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Tags: data sovereignty, indigenous data sovereignty, big data, open data, data as a cultural asset, data risk mediation