GuideStar International's Blog

August 12, 2011

Find Out More About Data Privacy at NetTuesday in London

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 08:20
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Data Privacy is an issue that is of increasing importance not only to civil society organisations, but social change activists and the general public. Data is becoming more open and is being used for good in many ways. We are also using the Internet and our phones every day to talk to each other, mobilise and organise for social change and access public and commercial services. As a result more and more data about us is being accessed, stored and in some cases reused without our knowledge. Identity thefts and hacking has also become much more commonplace. However, many of us don’t know much about how we can better protect ourselves online or about the EU and UK laws pertaining to data privacy. This event will examine why it is important, discuss recent examples of data privacy violations, regulations you should be aware of, and most importantly ways that you can help to keep your personal data private. RSVP here.


Wendy M. Grossman has written about computers, freedom, and privacy for more than 20 years. She is a member of the advisory council of the Open Rights Group and the advisory board of Privacy International. Find out more about her on  You can also find her on Twitter @wendyg.

Javier Ruiz Diaz is a Campaigner with the  Open Rights Group.  He joined after working for Unite, organising migrant workers for the living wage campaign.  Involved at the inception of open access reporting website Indymedia UK in 1999, he has since been active as a journalist, campaigner and radio documentary producer, tirelessly promoting communication tools for social movements.  At the World Social Forum in Brazil he co-ordinated open hardware and software projects to provide instantaneous interpretation of the event to over a 100,000 participants.  His other interests include applying open source innovation models to the development of renewable energy technologies and open hardware in general.


Data privacy overview
•    What’s at stake? (why data privacy is important and how it interacts with open data)

What are the risks? Including some national and international examples
•    Data breaches
•    Social networks
•    Mobile devices
•    Future scenarios

Legal Obligations – What are the new laws and will they affect you?
•    EU Data Retention Act
•    EU Data Protection Directive
•    The UK Digital Economy Act

How to respond?
•    e.g. of best practice/guides e.g. See Access’s “ A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Identity and Security Online and When using Mobile Phones” and Tactical Tech’s “Security in a Box”.

  • Protecting Computers and Networks
  • Role of Encryption
  • Data Minimization


Drinks! Place to be confirmed!


March 8, 2011

How Safe is the Cloud?

Filed under: civil society,CSO reporting,ICT for Development,Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 10:18
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This is the last of a three part series about Cloud computing as it relates to civil society organisations (CSOs) by Keisha Taylor, Communications Manager, GuideStar International.  You can also read the first post TechSoup Global: Teaching CSOs About the Cloud and the second post What is the Value of the Cloud for CSOs in the Developing World?.

Information held by and about a CSO in the Cloud can be requested by governments for a variety of reasons and this can be done without the CSO’s knowledge. As one TechCrunch blogger Paul Carr noted on his post Why I’m Having Second Thoughts About The Wisdom Of The Cloud, a request for information letter can be sent by the government to a provider without any requirement to notify the organisation or person that their data is being accessed. Such stories only serve to heighten CSOs concern about privacy and make them more wary of the use of the Cloud, particularly if they take a position that is publicly in opposition to a government that has jurisdiction over the information they hold in a Cloud.

It isn’t only governments and businesses that are concerned about security, for CSOs also want information about their development related activities and those they serve to be safe in the cloud. A common argument among cloud service providers is that putting data into the Cloud is far safer than keeping it on your computer, disc or server.  However, there is still not enough overarching standardisation and regulation to help ensure the security needed is in place within this emerging market.  In a data driven and data dependent world if the information that an organisation depends on for its work is lost and irretrievable they have little recourse. Such fears have lead to services like Backupify being introduced to back up information from social networking sites and Google apps.

A Computer World article by Bernard Golden lists a number of predictions for Cloud Computing in 2011, speculating that its use will continue and expand to more countries and as 3G mobile phone services become increasing available in the developing world this will most likely be true. The Cloud presents unprecedented opportunities for civil society organizations to be more efficient in their work. However I would also argue that while CSO will undoubtedly increasingly using cloud computing services, if answers to questions like: What happens if I lose my data in the cloud? What are the local and international regulations governing the Cloud? and How can I transfer all of my information from one Cloud to the next are hard to come by, some CSOs may yet cling to the wise old adage that says you should ‘never place all your eggs in one basket’.

January 11, 2010

2010: A Year of Online Clouds, Crowds, and Data Visualizations for CSOs?

By Keisha Taylor

We enter 2010 with plans for cloud computing, crowdsourcing as well as mapping and visualisation of data included in the agendas of governments and businesses. CSOs will do well to consider such options as they seek to maximise the impact of their work. Though such applications must be transparent, safe and respect the privacy of users, the potential benefits to those who proactively engage with it can be significant. Have a look at this interesting list of predictions for ICT trends this year.

Recession proof budgets have caused governments and large, small and medium businesses to realise that cloud computing can be a cost effective way for them to provide services to the public. See US and the UK government examples. TechSoup also lists the benefits of cloud technology to nonprofits.

CrowdsourcingRenewed calls for accountability may lead crowdsourcing to become increasingly used to gauge public opinion, solve problems and get feedback, which can inform and direct policies. One example is Vote India’s use of crowdsourcing to monitor the election process in India. However, it is also being used for the questionable Internet Eyes (to be launched in the UK this year), which invites the public to log onto their website to view CCTV footage and search for and report on crimes witnessed. It has even been used to recruit internet volunteers to search for a missing aviator. These are just three of many ways in which it has been used this year and such usage will no doubt increase in 2010.

The mapping and visualisation of data gathered and the use of real time content, may gather momentum this year and help enhance understanding of our world and the way in which individuals and organisations relate to each other within and across borders. It will also aid response to the call for greater transparency as data, which was unknown, inaccessible or muddled comes to light. The Where Does My Money Go prototype developed for the UK government by the Open Knowledge Foundation to reveal budget expenditure is one example of this, while the IT Dashboard provides the public with mapped data on US government spending.

2Paths gave an interesting presentation entitled Show me the Data at the Turning Statistics into Knowledge conference jointly organized by the US Census Bureau, the OECD and the World Bank, which stressed the need to be able to access and link data from multiple international agencies and foundations to answer questions like “Is aid tied to malaria activities making a difference?” As data becomes more readily available, we hope that more will be done with existing data to help us all visually understand what is really needed to realise socioeconomic development.  Philanthropy 2173 also has an interesting take on the ways in which philanthropy can and may use data and ICT this year in their Decoding the Future posts.

As GuideStar International seeks to illuminate the work of the world’s CSOs online we will also be keeping watch on ICT developments to ensure that the CSOs listed on the site can use modern, relevant technology to publicise their work effectively to all stakeholders on GuideStar.  As with all other issues CSOs will no doubt rise to the challenge of ensuring that civil liberties are protected for users of such technology. We hope that GuideStar will be one of the platforms that they use to showcase that work too.

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