Digital services have become vital for work and leisure, but they have also started to shape political decision-making and sometimes even threaten our privacy, mental health and political systems. The current digital governance system is riddled with problems, including vulnerability to privacy and cybersecurity breaches; permissiveness to social, economic and political manipulation; undermining of market incentives; and much more. It is essential that digital citizens gain control over their personal data and the terms on which this data is used. India’s digital public infrastructure platform and the EU’s digital wallet speak of the attention policymakers have given to the official authentication of digital data made by public systems, with different levels of centralization, due to their positive social outcomes. While these initiatives provide the first step to empowering consumers in the digital economy, the next challenge to policymakers is to provide citizens with the power to determine who has access to their data and under what terms. In this session, we present the building blocks of a digital architecture that is centered on human needs and the public good: one that supports social solidarity and public trust and empowers users without stifling innovation and growth. These building blocks include governance innovations for data ownership and the provision of digital public goods. The proposals complement governments’ existing regulatory approaches with forward-looking solutions.
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