FAQs

Digital Democracy and Data Commons is a pilot participatory process oriented to test a new technology to improve the digital participation platform Decidim and to collectively imagine the data politics of the future. This pilot takes place in the context of the European project DECODE (Decentralized Citizen Owned Data Ecosystems), that aims to construct legal, technological and socio-economic tools that allow citizens to take back control over their data and generate more common benefits out of them.

WHAT IS DECODE | DDDC?

A platform to deliberate and construct alternative and more democratic forms of data governance, which will allow citizens to take back control over their personal data in the digital society and economy. DECODE / DDDC is a digital participation platform based on the Decidim software for the European project DECODE.

A collaborative project

DECODE / DDDC is a participation platform based on open source software. Any citizen can see how it is built, reuse it or improve it. Check here the code on GitHub.

An experimental community

During the Digital Democracy and Data Commons pilot, a participatory community will be established around DECODE / DDDC. The platform is open for the self-organization of other processes or communities in the digital economy.

WHAT IS DECODE PROJECT?

DECODE is a response to people’s concerns about a loss of control over their personal information on the internet. The ability to access, control and use personal data has become a means by which internet companies can drive profits. The people who create much of this data have lost control over how it is used. This is a problem..

  • People have lost control of their data. This does not just mean the erosion of privacy and autonomy, it’s also bad for the security of people’s online identity.
  • The huge quantities of data produced every day offers the potential for insights which could benefit all of society. With the data controlled by a handful of monopolies, this data is inaccessible to people and organisations who want to create solutions and services for public benefit.
  • The monopolisation of data creates economic inefficiencies and inequalities. This threatens to undermine trust between citizens, public institutions, and companies, which is essential for a stable, sustainable and collaborative economy.
  • The current digital ecosystem and Internet of Things (IoT) landscape is highly fragmented, with a multitude of non-interoperable vertical solutions, all offering their own set of devices, gateways and platforms, and means of data handling in data “silos”. This fragmentation makes data unmanageable and end users ultimately lose control over it.

How do we solve it?

We believe that people should have a choice about what happens to their digital identity, who uses their data online, and for which purposes. DECODE is an experimental project to develop practical alternatives to how we use the internet today - four European pilots will show the wider social value that comes with individuals being given the power to take control of their personal data and given the means to share their data differently. DECODE will explore how to build a data-centric digital economy where data that is generated and gathered by citizens, the Internet of Things (IoT), and sensor networks is available for broader communal use, with appropriate privacy protections. As a result, innovators, startups, NGOs, cooperatives, and local communities can take advantage of that data to build apps and services that respond to their needs and those of the wider community.

WHAT IS THE DIGITAL DEMOCRACY AND DATA COMMONS PILOT (DDDC)?

The core of the DDDC pilot will be a technologically-enabled (via DECODE and Decidim technologies) participatory process for experts, citizens and city representatives to: 1-test the new DECODE-Decidim system for strongly secure, private, transparent and data enriched democratic decision making; 2-deliberate upon data politics and economics, at the local level and beyond; and 3-constitute an experimental digital data commons, whose shape will be defined by the ideas and practices coming from the participatory process itself.

The DDDC pilot has two threads, the Digital Democracy thread and the Data Commons thread. The Digital Democracy thread, the primary one, has a central aim: testing the integrated Decidim-DECODE system. The DECODE system will enhance privacy, allow data sharing and visualization (via the BCNNOW dashboard) and transparency (via the DECODE distributed ledger). Ultimately, this thread speaks to the potential of DECODE technology to push forward Decidim’s technology and vision of participatory democracy. The Data Commons thread, which is a complementary thread, is oriented to cover the other two general aims of the pilot, namely, to collectively deliberate upon data policies and experiment with data commons. Ultimately, this thread speaks to the potential of Decidim to advance DECODE’s vision of alternative forms of data governance and digital economy.

WHAT TECHNOLOGY IS DECODE CREATING?

DECODE is creating tools which will give people ownership of their data. These tools will combine blockchain technology with attribute-based cryptography to give the data owner control of how their data is accessed and used. This will help build a trustworthy and privacy-aware digital society.

DECODE’s research and technical development activities are focused on questions of trust and privacy. In particular, we will explore how trust and privacy can be guaranteed by new governance frameworks, and how this can lead to innovative economic models based on open data commons.

Entitlements attached to the private data would be searchable in the public domain but will grant access only to those parties that have the entitlement to access it. This novel concept of data rights and entitlements also applies to data being sent to or used by connected Internet of Things (IoT) objects in order to perform actions in the real world, allowing citizens to manage and control their devices and the data they generate.

WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN OR DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY (DLT)?

A blockchain or DLT is a means of processing an online transaction without the need for an intermediary. The first ever blockchain, used for the virtual currency Bitcoin, demonstrates how this works. For a virtual currency to function, there must be a means of ensuring that people cannot spend the same money twice. This is what blockchain does – it ensures the same Bitcoin cannot be double-counted by using cryptographic hashing to register, validate and store transactions in a distributed manner. There is no need for the two people to either trust each other or need an intermediary to enable to transaction.

Every time a transaction occurs, information about this transaction is added onto the ‘chain’. These units of information are known as blocks, which bundle up transactions and are confirmed every 10 minutes. Once a block has been added, it cannot be amended. It is a permanent, immutable record.

The blockchain is maintained across thousands of computers – known as nodes - rather than one central server. This means blockchain is distributed or shared. The network performs a computational process - known as hashing - which means all copies of the electronic record hold the same information, without the need for any third party to confirm it.

The blockchain has spurred a wave of innovation beyond Bitcoin and crypto-currencies. Developers and innovators see its value in decentralizing processes that would normally require a central authority or intermediary to validate it and guarantee trust. There is a view that blockchain can radically change the governance of financial and public institutions through the removal of intermediaries. The technology has caught the imagination of people across the political spectrum who are sceptical of centralized authority.

WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to internet-connected devices that capture or generate information. The number of IoT devices is growing rapidly, with estimates that by 2020 there will be 20bn internet-connected devices. For individuals, these devices include mobile phones, sports wearables, home heating and kitchen appliances. For governments, this includes devices and sensors which capture information about a range of things, such as air quality, traffic, and activity in public spaces.

DECODE will develop decentralised systems which enable access to IoT devices with data owned by citizens. This will protect people’s data and privacy, but mean that we can collectively benefit from the insights provided by the data collected by IoT devices.

WHAT IS A DATA COMMONS?

A data commons is a shared resource – made accessible and intentionally open – rather than subject to restrictions through licensing. It enables everyone to contribute, access and use the data. The data can be used an unlimited number of times and no-one is excluded from accessing it. In this sense, data can be seen as an economic public good alongside more traditional examples such as street lights or clean air. It enables everyone to contribute, access and use the data in the data commons. DECODE will create open data commons from data produced by individuals and devices. People will be able to decide which personal data they want to share into the commons, and on which basis. For instance, they can decide whether their data is anonymised. There are other forms of digital commons licensing, such as that for software, which have been studied widely. However, a digital commons made of personal data continue to be the subject of exploitation by big service providers. DECODE will create and implement new rules that make alternatives possible.

WHAT ARE SMART RULES?

Smart rules are the means by which people can decide how their data is used, by whom and on what basis. Using distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain, DECODE will create smart contracts that enable people to create rules about whether their personal data is kept private or shared. These will enable individuals to share digital commons made of personal data and identify the specific characteristics, ownership regimes, and access rights of the digital commons.

DECODE will use a combination of business practices, legal rules and technical solutions operated through smart rules that manage user preferences for data sharing. This starts with transparency over what data is held by whom, and the ability to authorise any sharing while understanding the implications.

Smart rules allow people to define conditions for the access and use of data, and legal/contractual obligations and other constraints. Through the smart rules, one may provide or remove authorisation for access to personal data; their association with its identity; or change the legal status and the conditions of use and exploitation of the data.

The combination of smart rules running on distributed ledger technologies will produce a platform that is fully decentralised, and allows flexible, extensible data governance.

WHAT IS THE SHARING ECONOMY?

The sharing economy involves using digital platforms to connect distributed groups of people to make better use of goods, skills and other resources. Examples could be sharing cars, spaces or power tools. It is also known as the collaborative economy. The sharing economy typically uses digital platforms to connect people. In DECODE, we will be developing technology which means these platforms, or intermediaries, are no longer needed.

WHAT IS PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY?

Participatory democracy refers to the ability to participate directly in various aspects of the democratic process. It ranges from providing transparency to citizens about government and political processes, to providing ways for people to actively participate in policy making and decision-making. This could include voting, contributing ideas, participate in the allocation of budget, or developing policies through deliberation with other citizens and officials.

HOW IS DECODE FUNDED?

DECODE is funded by the European Commission. It is a three-year project, running between January 2017 and December 2019. In total €5m will be paid to the 14 consortium members undertaking the work. DECODE is part of Horizon 2020 (Project no. 732546). This is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). It is a flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. DECODE’s consortium members are from Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, France and the UK. Francesca Bria, Barcelona Chief Technology and Innovation Officer is the project coordinator.

DOCUMENTATION

In this folder you will find PDF documents related to the participatory process

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Important note: The participatory process has already concluded. Here we show you in detail how wa the participationprocess that we articulated through the Decidim digital platform.