Measuring the level of security, privacy and data protection of crowdsourced information

Over the last few years, different types of crowdsourcing have expanded rapidly allowing citizens to connect with each other, governments to connect with common mass, coordinate disaster response work, to map political conflicts, acquiring information quickly and participating in issues that affect day-to-day lives of citizens. The increased use of crowdsourcing platforms and the positive development of crowdsourcing help common people to become more active and informed citizens. However main questions remain over the security, privacy and data protection issues of crowdsourced information. So far no parameters have been developed to measure the security, privacy of data protection level of crowdsourced information.  In this blog, I would suggest an index i.e. Crowdsourcing Index (CI) to measure the security, privacy of data protection level of crowdsourced information. Before doing so, let me allow having short discussions on some available and internationally recognized indices to asses different aspects of our digital environment.

E-Participation Index (EPI)

The E-Participation Index is to assess the ‘quality and usefulness of information and services provided by a country for the purpose of engaging its citizens in public policy making through the use of e-government programs’.[1] The EPI indicates both the capacity and the willingness of the state in encouraging the citizen in promoting deliberative, participatory decision-making in public policy and of the reach of its own socially inclusive governance program.[2] There are also criticisms against these indices. Some experts identify that the relation between the index and democracy and participation is non-existent and suggest the UN eParticipation Index is a failure initiative.[3]

Open Data Index (ODI)

The Open Data Index is an independent assessment developed by the Open Knowledge Foundation to know the openness and ranks of countries based on the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas: transport timetables; government budget; government spending; election results; company registers; national map; national statistics; legislation; postcodes / ZIP codes; emissions of pollutants’. The ODI has been developed to help answer whether the available data legally or technically usable so that common people, non-profits, other civil society organisation and business organisations can realize the full benefits of the information. The ODI also assess countries with the most advanced or lagging in relating to open data.  Expert identifies that this is an important step to build fair, just and sustainable societies as this index can be used to empower citizens and organizations.[4]

International Privacy Index (IPI)

The UK-based Privacy International in cooperation with the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center conduct annual surveys in order to assess how much privacy protection nations’ populations have from both corporative and government surveillance. States are graded according to a mean score across fourteen criteria such as: i. Constitutional protection; ii. Statutory protection; iii. Privacy enforcement; iv. Identity cards and biometrics; v. Data-sharing; vi. Visual surveillance; vii. Communication interception; viii. Workplace monitoring; ix. Government access to data; x. Communications data retention; xi. Surveillance of medical, financial and movement; xii. Border and trans-border issues; xiii. Leadership; xiv. Democratic safeguards.

Digital Access Index (DAI)

The Market Information and Statistics Unit of International Telecommunication Union launched the Digital Access Index (DAI) in 2003. This new index has been developed to measures the overall ability of citizens in a particular country to access and use new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Experts have recognized that this method is more suitable for identifying trends and drawing attention to particular issues and also for setting policy priorities.[5]   The DAI consists of eight variables[6] organized into five categories (e.g. infrastructure, affordability, knowledge and quality and actual usage).  The DAI allows countries to see how they compare to peers and their relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of using ICTs and it also provides a transparent and globally measurable way of tracking progress towards improving access to ICTs.

Networked Readiness Index (NRI)

The World Economic Forum together with INSEAD develops the Networked Readiness Index (NRI)[7] to measure the tendency for countries to use the opportunities offered by information and communications technologies. The NRI is a composite of three components: i. the environment for ICT offered by a given country or community (Market, political and regulatory, infrastructure environment); ii. the readiness of the community’s key stakeholders (individuals, businesses, and governments) to use ICT, and finally iii. the usage of ICT amongst these stakeholders.

The e-readiness rankings

The E-Readiness ranking is about to know the ability to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to develop one’s economy and to foster one’s welfare. E-Readiness rankings can also be used to track the global digital divide, mainly because of differences in income, education, etc.). Based on six pillars of e-readiness, e.g. i. connectivity & technology infrastructure, ii. business environment, iii. social & cultural environment, iv. legal environment, v. government policy & vision and vi. consumer & business adoption, each year, in cooperation with the IBM Institute for Business Value, the Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist Group produces a ranking of e-readiness across countries.[8]

E-government Readiness Index (EGDI)

The E-Government Readiness Index (EGDI) is a composite measure of the capacity and willingness of countries to use e-government for ICT-led development. The United Nations Public Administration Programme (UNPAP) developed the the EGDI in 2003 and has been updated annually. The EGDI looks at the most important dimensions of e-government: (i) scope and quality of online services, (ii) telecommunication connectivity, and (iii) human capacity. Government’s efforts are ranked but countries size, infrastructure availability and ICT penetration, and the level of education and skill development are taken into account.[9]

Assessing the Crowdsourcing Index (CI)

Crowdsourcing process is very much linked with the level of ICT use, willingness and openness of governments, quality and usefulness of ICTs and services provided by governments, digital divide, security and privacy and data protection. Crowdsourced information is consists of user-generated contents, private and personal information, sensitive information, original facts and figures from the ground, etc. Security, privacy and data protection are the most important aspects in crowdsourcing. Initiatives that lack the high level of security, privacy and data protection, could raise serious security and privacy concerns of contributors. However, as of now, there is no procedure to assess the security, privacy and data protection level of crowdsourced information. The above-discussed seven indices have been developed in order to i. know the overall ability of citizens in a particular country to access and use new information and communication technologies; ii. measure the tendency for countries to use the opportunities offered by information and communications technologies; iii. track the global digital divide; iv. measure of the capacity and willingness of countries to use e-government for ICT-led development; v. to assess the ‘quality and usefulness of information and services provided by a country for the purpose of engaging its citizens in public policy making through the use of e-government programs’; vi. know the openness of governments and vii. assess how much privacy protection nations’ populations have from both corporative and government surveillance. Based on these seven indices, the Crowdsourcing Index (CI) would be calculated. This is just an idea or proposal for experts to analyse the procedure to calculate crowdsourcing index.

Methodology:

The Crowdsourcing Index (CI) would rate the level of security, privacy and data protection during crowdsourcing.  The CI would assess the performance of national governments relative to one another by averaging seven other indices mentioned above: E-Participation Index (EPI), Open Data Index (ODI), International Privacy Index (IPI), Digital Access Index (DAI), Networked Readiness Index (NRI), The e-readiness rankings (E-readiness) and E-government Readiness Index (EGRI). Here the maximum possible value would be one and the minimum would zero. From the mathematical point, the CI would be weighted average of seven normalized scores on the most important dimensions of digital environment, namely: e-Participation level, openness, privacy, digital access, networked readiness, e-readiness and e-government readiness. Each of these seven sets of indices is itself a complex assessment that can be extracted and analyzed autonomously.[10]

So the Crowdsourcing Index (CI) =

(.15X E-Participation Index) + (.15 X Open Data Index) + (.14 x International Privacy Index) + (.14 X Digital Access Index) +  (.14 x Networked Readiness Index) + (.14 X e-readiness rankings) + (.14 X E-government Readiness Index)


[2] United Nations, United Nations e-Government Survey 2008 – From e-Government to Connected Governance – Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Public Administration and Development Management, ST/ESA/PAD/SER.E/112; United Nations publication, ISBN 978-92-1-123174-8; pp 17-18, (2008).

[3] Janssen, M. et al. (Eds.): Connecting eGovernment to Real Government – The Failure of the UN eParticipation Index, EGOV 2011, LNCS 6846, pp. 26–37, (2011)

[4] Halder, B.: Assessing the openness: An inspiring example of crowdsourced research work. Available at https://tech4empowerment.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/assessing-the-openness-an-inspiring-example-of-crowdsourced-research-work/ (2013).

[5] Gaaloul, H. & Khalfallah, S.: Application of the ‘‘Benefit-Of-the-Doubt’’ Approach for the Construction of a Digital Access Indicator: A Revaluation of the ‘‘Digital Access Index. Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht, DOI:10.1007/s11205-013-0422-8; (2013)

[6] The eight variables are: 1. Fixed telephone subscribers per 100 inhabitants; 2. Mobile cellular subscribers per 100 inhabitants; 3. Internet access price as percentage of Gross National Income per capita); 4. Adult literacy; 5. Combined primary, secondary and tertiary school enrolment level; 6. International Internet bandwidth (bits) per capita; 7. Broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants; 8. Internet users per 100 inhabitants. For details please visit http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/dai/.

[8] IBM, The IBM Institute for Busines Value.: E-readiness rankings 2009- The usage imperative, A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist, http://graphics.eiu.com/pdf/E-readiness%20rankings.pdf  (2009)

[9] United Nations, United Nations e-Government Survey 2008 – From e-Government to Connected Governance – Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Public Administration and Development Management, ST/ESA/PAD/SER.E/112; United Nations publication, ISBN 978-92-1-123174-8; pp 12-14, (2008).

[10] United Nations (2010), “E-Government Survey 2010: Leveraging e-government at a time of financial and economic crisis”, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York.Statistical Annex. Retrieved on 11/11/2013  at: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan038851.pdf

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